BY NATHAN DUKE
Editor In Chief
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown is handing over more than $20 million in settlement funds to the city’s Police Department to support community policing in the borough.
On Monday, the DA presented a check for $20,391,864 to city Police Commissioner James O’Neill at College Point’s New York City Police Academy. The funds will support the NYPD’s implementation of a number of law enforcement initiatives in Queens and pay for new cars, technology and training.
The DA said that the funds would be distributed among the borough’s 16 police precincts for community policing strategies.
“In essence, it heralds the return of a familiar figure— the cop on the beat who knows the people and the community he or she serves,” Brown said of community policing. “By forging closer, more meaningful relationships with local business owners, community advocates, religious leaders and residents, it is hoped that a line of dialogue can be opened up between the police and the communities that will result in mutual understanding and an easing of the tension and mistrust that ofttimes exists between the police and many of the communities they protect.”
The funding provided by the DA’s office is part of the historic 2012 HSBC Holdings agreement, in which the banking and financial services organization admitted to money laundering and sanctions violations and greed to forfeit $1.25 billion as part of a deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and to pay an additional $665 million in civil penalties for its anti-money laundering program violations.
The Queens DA’s office, which played a large role in helping to develop the case against HSBC, received an equitable sharing award of $116 from the U.S. Department of Treasury’s program under this agreement for its contribution and efforts in the HSBC Holdings investigation. Under Treasury guidelines, equitable sharing funds must supplement existing resources and be used only for valid law enforcement purposes.
Under a spending plan approved by the Department of the Treasury’s Executive Office for Asset Forfeiture, the Queens DA’s office has transferred the money of its HSBC windfall award equitable sharing funds to the NYPD to enhance the department’s community policing strategies in Queens.
“The $20 million Judge Brown has allocated for this department will be an important investment in neighborhood policing, our crime fighting strategy,” O’Neill said. “This forfeiture funding will provide our cops with essential tools— like vehicles, technology and training— they need to do their job.”
The funding will help the NYPD to purchase 264 new vehicles in Queens, equipment for police enhanced training initiatives at the NYPD’s police academy, training technology for recruits and 19,000 new upgraded gun holsters.
Community policing was initiated as a pilot in 2015 at selected precincts citywide with the intention of eventually expanding to all five boroughs. Assigned sector teams would work in conjunction with neighborhood coordination officers, a select group of officers assigned as problem solvers for a given sector. The goal would be for officers to form positive relationships with community members through regular contact and familiarity with neighborhood coordination officers.
Prior to the implementation of this model, officers were routinely assigned to the entire boundary of a precinct, tied to their radios and running from call to call with little or no time for proactive problem solving or other activities that would strengthen community relations with the NYPD.
“Working in the same area every day and staying within the established sector, these teams of officers will be enabled to become fully familiar with and address local conditions, engage with the community, better identify sector specific problems, conduct follow-ups, participate in community meetings and engage in collaborative problem-solving actions with sector residents and business owners,” the DA said.