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September 30, 2015
BROOKLYN, NY, September 30, 2015: Yesterday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, and civil rights attorney Norman Siegel unveiled a new report with recommendations for improving police-community relations. The findings in “Improving Police-Community Relations” are taken from feedback gathered from over a thousand New Yorkers at a series of community forums they convened in both boroughs, as well as four digital dialogues hosted by Borough President Adams with students across Brooklyn, connecting over Google Hangout.
“As a victim of police brutality during my teenage years, and later as a man who decided to work from the inside of One Police Plaza to achieve reform, I know on a personal level what is at stake if we cannot restore the symbiotic relationship between the community and police: the safety and security of New Yorkers lie in the balance,” said Borough President Adams. “The town halls and digital dialogues we hosted in Brooklyn with hundreds of New Yorkers were more than an opportunity for emotional release; they were a crucial exercise in understanding where police-community relations are and where they need to go. It is my hope that this report, and all of the efforts and energies that went into it, help to strengthen our foundation with a greater understanding of the challenges that lie ahead of us. Moreover, I look forward to a thoughtful consideration of the recommendations this process has borne as opportunities to make New York City a more safe, just, and equitable place to raise healthy children and families.”
“Hundreds of people from all walks of life – including NYPD officers – came together at our police-community dialogues in Washington Heights, East Harlem, and the Lower East Side,” said Borough President Brewer. “We sat together and had real conversations about increasing understanding and trust between police and the neighborhoods they protect, and the ideas in this report are the result of their conversations. The recommendations in this report are the fruit of those conversations – and they give us an agenda for action.”
“The problems of police-community relations continue to challenge New York and other cities across this nation,” said Siegel. “Our report documents a history of violations of civil rights by the NYPD in racial minority communities. Yet, community participants in our town hall meetings demonstrated an openness to create a new collaborative framework of policing in New York City. We have much work to do. We need to create a NYC Improve Police-Community Relations Coalition to bring about changes that are long overdue. Our report can help. Our report is not an end but a beginning, calling upon New Yorkers to join us in bringing about the needed changes.”
The report made a number of recommendations, including: ensuring the NYPD Patrol Guide and training materials concerning stop and frisk procedures clearly guide officers on compliance with the Supreme Court’s standards for “reasonable suspicion”; establishing a permanent Statewide Independent Special Prosecutor to investigate allegations of misconduct; strengthening the Civilian Complaint Review Board system with an increased budget, greater staff resources, and disciplinary authority; lengthening Police Academy Training from six months to a full year; offering sabbaticals at partial salary to NYPD officers; reforming “Broken Windows” policing by decriminalizing many non-threatening behaviors; and implementing body cameras for patrol officers only once proper protocols are in place. Changes prescribed to strengthen community and neighborhood policing include: creating a new NYPD diversity plan that allows peace officers to take the police exam if they have served honorably for at least two years in their roles; assigning more officers to Community Affairs and Youth roles in police precincts; assigning more experienced patrol officers to regular beats; and establishing different hiring, training, and evaluation criteria for officers engaged in “Neighborhood Policing” work. The report also endorses enhancing NYPD officers’ training in conflict de-escalation and sensitivity, rotating patrol officers weekly between cars and foot patrol, and increasing psychological screening for Academy applicants and current officers. Many of these ideas were raised directly by community members in one or more of the town halls and digital dialogues.
The report is available online on Borough President Adams’s website by visiting brooklyn-usa.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/NYPD-Town-Hall-Report-FINAL.pdf and on Borough President Brewer’s website by visiting manhattanbp.nyc.gov/downloads/pdf/NYPD%20Town%20Hall%20Report.pdf.
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