We, the Midtown South Community Council, myself, Bill Ottersen, Eileen Miller, Frank Kelly and Midtown South Precinct, Inspector Edward Winski, Joe Bunster, and Paul Spano, joined other New York City councils and precinct commands to hear Police Commissioner William Bratton and the top commanders of various departments speak on widespread initiatives.
During the question and answer segment with Mr. Bratton, a community council member voices her disappointment that the meeting is not about her and her council. We’re being informed of major changes within the New York City Police Department by its top brass; I think this is the better meeting to have. A member from another council expresses her dismay that the civil protests of late were not crushed underfoot for disrupting holiday shopping. The commissioner pointedly answers that the marches were free from lawsuits, which they wanted to avoid as they are still entangled with legal battles created by the last administration.
I’m too busy mulling over their innovative and progressive plans to throw out a question or comment of my own. I’ve known that many of the New York City precincts have been technically handicapped, so it excites me to hear about the emerging tech department advancing its arrest procedures, increasing bandwidth, using prediction data algorithms for locating troubled spots, documenting events with body cams, staying connected with smartphones, and using tablets to access immediate information. I can’t begin to fathom what the 3/4 million square feet of training facility that is being built at College Point, will encompass. The additional hours of impact field training seem like a no-brainer; I imagine there is never enough field training, combat or social interaction—having to be a psychic, social worker, and Superman rolled into one I’d imagine, is difficult. I am delighted their plans include homeless initiatives, no person should be left to scrounge around on our city’s streets. Are they thinking about a homeless program to alert the many agencies to come and rescue someone in need, or at the very least, prevent someone from freezing to death? I can see it now, you touch a button, file an online application (very simple), add a snapshot, and the [bat] signal goes out to all the right people and whoever is ready, able, or within the vicinity responds. What I find most important in their plans is a desire to bring the citizenry into the fold; they want to have closer relations.
The NYC Police Department is proud of low crime stats, especially within the confines of midtown. Rightly so, I’ve seen crack addicts, security issues, and many other quality of life problems fade over my 30-plus years living in midtown; the Midtown South Police Precinct Commander Edward Winski, as with his predecessors, has never been satisfied with the lowest ratio of firearms used (80 out of 35,000), and is always working tirelessly to push the crime stats even lower. Proactive management rather than tail-chasing contributes to their success. There were 18 people dressed in costume characters arrested for aggressively hustling tips and putting their paws where they don’t belong. After doing an outreach (meeting with the costume characters to set guidelines and discuss the error of their ways) no arrests for the past three months have been made (as of January 26, 2015). Copper was stolen from the MTA, and after closing four scrap yards and taking action against two others, theft of copper stopped.
It seems sensible that the police department would want to engage in media campaigns of their own, especially after the NYPD Union President Patrick Lynch and Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani used the racially charged events that began with the killing of Ferguson resident Michael Brown, and ended with the killing of New York City Police Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, to score political points. How else shall we combat the hyperbolic charges set against us. Will we, factually and without propaganda, engage on various social media platforms to give you the untainted truth? How mindful will this be? How can we trust that it will be “the truth and nothing but the truth”?
Now my brain is on a roll and a question is formulating and is about to be realized in a coherent sentence…it’s when the word “counterterrorism” or “counterintelligence” start dancing between my ears. France’s manhunt seems to be very much a part of our news. They’re calling it the worst terrorist attack. We seem to be drawn into their drama, connected by the words terror, terrorist, terrorism… You’re not using these terms to frighten us into complacency while abetting our government to run roughshod over our liberties, are you? Heavily arming a special unit is weighing heavily on my mind. We’ll need to know more about these plans.
However, with all said and despite some concern, I am relishing the progressive steps being taken. Just when I thought we would be condemned to roll around on a hamster wheel going nowhere, there is a flicker of evolutionary light. Is it possible the new administration is going to revolutionize operations, thereby moving the department into, and perhaps, beyond the 21st century? Yes, the light is flickering and our progressive mayor and commissioner are guiding the ship. My exuberance and partiality to our mayor will not prevent me from keeping a watchful eye.