Verdict Still Out on NYC ‘Neighborhood Policing’

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who will win his second term Tuesday, says his campaign for nicer police officers is a success. There are no metrics to measure the program, and long-promised officer training on implicit bias is yet to begin.

Four years after critics predicted lawlessness if Bill de Blasio became New York City mayor, he comes before voters with a record of keeping crime at bay. Murders stand at 242, on pace to be the lowest on record, the New York Times reports. De Blasio should win re-election Tuesday easily. He came to office critical of past policing practices and promising reforms. In his first year, he found himself at odds with the rank-and file after the killing of two officers in 2014, which some blamed on his remarks. His record on crime reduction has provided his clearest success. The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, the largest police union, declined to endorse the mayor for re-election, but, it did not endorse any of his opponents, either.

With violent crime on the rise in some other large cities and President Trump encouraging police aggression, de Blasio is hoping to make his mark on public safety in New York City and beyond with a policing experiment on a massive scale to make officers nicer. The record has been mixed and mostly anecdotal. De Blasio has encouraged officers to engage in deeper outreach with residents and to look inward to their internal biases. He is convinced that the crime numbers and a declining number of official citizen complaints about the police prove that the changes have taken hold. Still, officers do not walk a beat. Neighborhood meetings organized by new “neighborhood coordination officers” are sparsely attended in many cases. Firm metrics do not exist for measuring the new approach, which officials call neighborhood policing and not community policing. Despite de Blasio’s promise nearly two years ago to begin implicit bias training for officers that spring, the police department has yet to train a single officer.