The New York City Police Department needs more cops in order to improve relationships with the communities they protect, city council members argued on Tuesday.
Susan Herman, the NYPD's deputy commissioner for collaborative policing, testified on Tuesday that the department would roll out a pilot program in four precincts — two in Brooklyn and two in Queens — that would have some officers dedicate a third of their shift to walking their beats and talking to the community.
"We believe that focusing on neighborhoods will reinvigorate community policing in the NYPD," Herman said.
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Staten Island Councilman Steven Matteo praised the concept of more cops on the streets, but said he worried the plan might spread the current 35,000-strong force too thin.
“The fundamental issue here is making sure that the public’s safety is paramount and get more resources to get more cops,” he said, reiterating his support for 1,000 new cops.
The City Council has long advocated for hiring more officers to help offset overtime expenses and help communities see more officers in the streets instead of in cars or random sweeps.
In 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Commissioner Bill Bratton declined to hire the additional cops the Council provided for in the budget, arguing that the city has cut crime to a record low without them.
Bratton, who recently told state lawmakers he didn't have enough cops, was not at the hearing.
"The level of cops in the Police Department is really something that's being discussed very carefully at many levels in the city right now," Herman said.
Police reform advocates say they want de BLasio to again refuses to add cops, albeit for a different reason.
"Adding more police officers is not a solution in and of itself, as it will only further perpetuate needless criminalization of low-income communities of color," said Alyssa Aguilera, political director of activist group VOCAL-NY, said in a statement.