For the past few years since Police Commissioner Bill Bratton vowed to bring community policing back to New York City, there have been a lot of detractors; those who felt the idea was a pointless effort to change already effective policing in order to appeal to minority communities.
But the news that community policing would be coming to the 109th Precinct proves that this tactic isn’t about pandering to one group, but rather a means to make policing a community-focused endeavor in a community-focused city.
New York City is a big city, with many diverse neighborhoods home to residents who identify with their communities. In Queens, we almost always identify by our neighborhoods. If you live in Bay Terrace, you don’t tell people you live in Flushing. Ozone Park is Ozone Park, not Jamaica. Belle Harbor denizens don’t identify themselves as Far Rockaway. The NYPD should police that way.
Half of those who live in the 109th Precinct command live in a small area around Downtown Flushing where the precinct house is. But for those living in Bay Terrace or College Point, where crime is typically low, it often feels as Downtown Flushing gets all the attention from the NYPD. While it is understandable why, people in these outlying communities want to see familiar faces in uniforms patrolling their streets, for same reason that black communities want it: Security.
Community policing puts cops back on local beats that allows residents in these communities to see officers on a regular basis and get to know who they are. It’s a situation that allows for peace of mind, even in relatively “safe” neighborhoods. It improves the relationship between police and the people they serve and protect not only in black communities, but in every community.