Costa Constantinides
Public Safety

Public Safety: Something Needs to Change

We live in the greatest neighborhood in the greatest city in the world. The New York City Police Department (NYPD) has rightfully earned a reputation as among the most effective law enforcement agencies in the world--and they continue to do heroic work with fewer and fewer resources.

But something needs to change.

According to recent NYPD statistics for the 114th Precinct, reports of major crimes (including murder, rape, robbery, felony assault, burglary, grand larceny, and grand larceny auto) are up 6.39% year-to-date. Petty larceny is up 9.1% from this time last year. This is an alarming increase which must be addressed. Public safety should not be compromised.

My plan to reduce crime and protect public safety is simple: We need more police on the streets and we need to explore and implement innovative proven crime-fighting strategies.

Restore Police Jobs

The NYPD has only 34,500 police officers working today--a number that has dropped steadily and is now the lowest in 20 years. It is down significantly from 40,800 in 2001. Many experts have pointed to the repeated reduction in the size of the police force as the cause of the recent increase in crime. There are simply not enough police officers to fight crime, maintain order, and guard against terrorist acts. We must demand that the NYPD is adequately funded and staffed. We simply need to hire more police officers.

Evidence also suggests that there are even fewer cops on the street when you consider the many uniformed police officers are performing clerical and administrative duties. There are hundreds of able-bodied police officers assigned to desk duty which involves filling out paperwork--jobs that used to be done by clerks and other administrative staff. These officers could be out on the street patrolling communities and making a real impact.

Implement Proven Crime-Fighting Strategies

The increase in crime points to the need to consider alternative strategies to reduce crime and improve community relations. I agree with Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch’s recent statement that stop and frisk quotas have become ineffective in fighting crime and they serve as a tremendous source of friction with communities that the NYPD serves.

One proven strategy for improving public safety is “focused deterrence” which has been successfully applied in other cities. Experts at Yale’s Innovations in Policing Clinic describe “focused deterrence’ as the opposite of stop and frisk. Focused deterrence is a strategy that targets the worst offenders with intense police investigation and aggressive criminal prosecution. Local community members are directly engaged with identifying problem areas and individuals.

The National Institute of Justice says that using an evidence-based, problem-solving approach like focused deterrence is successful, in part, because it incorporates and empowers the community to be a part of the process. The police hold community meetings and solicit feedback and support. This avoids perception problems and helps keep the community engaged. Focused Deterrence is a proven approach that will help further strengthen the bonds of trust between law enforcement and the community. It will help improve morale of police officers and it will improve public safety.