Relating to your cover story about the return to Community Policing, here are some of my plans for improving public safety in the City of New York. – Mike Bloomberg
Guns off the Streets
Continue the NYPD's all-out war on illegal guns. The NYPD must work even more closely with the federal law enforcement to stop this and insist gun owners undergo annual range training to ensure that they know how to use their guns.
Gangs. With a Captain and a squad in each borough dealing with gangs, the NYPD has been successful at cracking down on gang activity. We cannot let up. School Safety Officers should be trained by Gang Unit officers on the warning signs of gang activity in schools. Gang Unit officers should visit the schools in their precincts regularly to teach children about the dangers of gangs.
Drugs. Maintain the effective work of the NYPD's Narcotics Unit. Explore expanding cameras in high-drug areas, as is being done in Washington Square Park while protecting civil liberties.
Maintaining the Force
The Three R's. We have all read the stories. Urban police departments across the country are having trouble attracting recruits. Whether it was the good economy, the lure of higher paying police posts in the suburbs or controversial incidents that have sapped morale and public confidence, cops are not flocking to protect and serve the public. That is especially true in New York City where after years of building up, the NYPD has seen its force dip below 41,000. As Mayor, I would work hard to maintain the force by pursuing the Three R's: Raise. Recruitment. Retention. Raise. There is no question that police officers deserve a raise.
Recruitment. We must do everything possible to recruit the best men and women for the NYPD. Improve minority recruitment by increasing the size of the recruitment unit with heavy minority representation. We should go to African-American and Latino places of worship. They are the incubators of the very talent the NYPD needs for the force. And we should recruit suitable candidates at the City's community and senior colleges.
Free CUNY tuition. Police Officers are required to have at least two years of college or military experience. Therefore, officers who return to get their Associates Degree or Bachelor of Arts or Science degree should be given free tuition to CUNY.
Increased pay for second-language skills. Officers should be encouraged to learn a second language and given a boost in pay after demonstrating language proficiency.
Retention. The NYPD is one of the most respected law enforcement agencies in the world for a reason. Its tremendous crime-fighting successes, particularly over the last eight years, have made it a model in policing. Yet police officers are leaving the Department in droves. We must do everything possible to get our most experienced officers to stay on the force.
Using Technology. In 1977, the Son of Sam was nabbed through a parking ticket. Today, the NYPD remains technologically backwards. In this day of instant communication and limitless information, our cops should be more like Dick Tracy than Sherlock Holmes. UPS delivery people have more information at their fingertips than does a New York City cop. We must use technology to bring precinct houses into the 21st century and to assist cops in fighting crime.
Expand the use of Blackberry-style handheld computers. In FY 2002, 200 cops will have them. They are helping cops nab bad guys by putting national crime and motor vehicle data at their fingertips. Mug shots soon will be available.
Bar Code Scanners. The State Police soon will be given handheld devices that will allow them to scan the code on drivers' licenses. This would put a wealth of information at their fingertips. The NYPD should have the same technology.
Procure new non-lethal weaponry. Cops need non-lethal tools to incapacitate or immobilize people who are a threat to themselves and others. The NYPD is investigating a new Taser technology that would allow officers to restrain potentially violent people, particularly the mentally ill, without the use of lethal weapons at a distance of 21 feet.
Laptops are severely underutilized In Precincts. In theory, each precinct Captain (c.o.) should have one, but the reality is much different. They should be standard issue for all officers ranking Captain and above. This would require about 700 laptops that could be procured by volume discount or lease. In addition, all laptops should be able to link, via the web with a password, to the CompStat database.
In Cars. Use laptops for filing reports. Other Police Departments are using them to cut out the handwritten reports, which then must be later entered into a computer and saved for court purposes.
Protecting the Public
Address Allegations of Racial Profiling. While I do not believe the NYPD as a matter of policy is engaged in this unjust practice, I do believe that the perception of racial profiling by the NYPD is equally destructive. We must combat that perception and ensure that it does not become reality.
Support an Independent Civilian Complaint Review Board. The CCRB must be independent and fair or it won't work. Therefore, it should report to the Mayor. The CCRB must command the respect of both the police and the public. If cops think the CCRB is a rogue board that considers them guilty before they walk in the door it will never be effective. So, too, if the public believes that the CCRB will never substantiate a case against an officer.
Community Relations Strategy 2001. Police Officers assigned to specialty units currently must attend community meetings with the Precinct Commanding Officer. This allows the cops and the community to get to know each other and facilitate dialogue. This must continue.
Community Notification Protocol. Currently being developed to establish a line of communication between police precinct brass and community leaders to facilitate information sharing during emergencies and events of concern to the affected community. This will enhance the importance of existing Police-Community Councils.
Foster More Interaction Between Children and the Police. Young people should learn how to interact with cops from real-life police officers not from television cop shows. Their lack of understanding of the police officer's job and a lack of understanding of their rights and responsibilities under the law can make encounters between them unnecessarily negative. “100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care” has the “What to Do When Stopped By the Police” program that should be taken in-house by the NYPD to expand its reach.
Getting Better Police regulations must be reinforced and a customer-service mentality should permeate all levels of the Department. Training must emphasize civility and professionalism in dealing with the public. For the form of “police brutality” the public is most likely to experience is verbal abuse. Already, the NYPD has begun leadership and customer-service training for the ranks of Captain and above and their civilian counterparts as part of its effort to improve police-community relations. The NYPD is the best police force in the nation. But it can always be better.