NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) - The NYPD wants to make it easier for the public to get to know the officers who protect them, so the department is stepping up its community outreach.
The relationship between a beat cop and his or her community is the starting point for healing all of the divides between the police and the people they protect and serve, some New Yorkers told Fox 5. To foster that familiarity, the NYPD plans to hold neighborhood meetings run by patrol officers without their bosses, allowing those beats cops an opportunity to relax and listen and explain and get to know the people they police.
"Today we're asking all New Yorkers to join us in building their blocks, building their streets, building their neighborhoods and we're providing a way to do it," Police Commissioner James O'Neill said at a news conference in his old Bronx precinct. "We want all New Yorkers to see that their cops have initiative, innovation, and discretion."
O'Neill and Chief of Patrol Terry Monahan both said that for NYPD brass these meetings were as much about placing trust in New Yorkers as they were about placing trust in the department's rank-and-file officers.
"People have problems and once they see a cop as a human and we humanize that cop, the communication flowed a lot easier," Monahan said.
The first wave of these 166 meetings spread throughout the five boroughs started last week and goes through the end of July. The NYPD eventually hopes to hold these gatherings quarterly in every sector of the city.
"As you know, the last couple of years it's been kind of hard to be a cop in the United States," O'Neill said. "I think it's time that we get the police and the community together and have them understand why we took these jobs."