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Neighborhood policing into the subway to bridge gap between cops, the public

BOERUM HILL, Brooklyn — Some 6 million people depend on the New York City subway to get around every day, and they also depend on the NYPD to keep their ride safe.

While crime in the city continues to dip to historically low levels, there is a new effort happening below ground.

The NYPD is now using its neighborhood policing strategy to ride that success in the subways in Transit District 30 in Brooklyn and Transit District 12 in the Bronx.

Fresh off their training last month, neighborhood coordination officers Ana Martinez and Aaron Nieves are among the first dozen cops in Brooklyn to accept this new assignment: bridge the gap between the police and the public.

When asked if it's possible to meet every single commuter, Nieves said it isn’t likely, “but we reach out to a couple and it’s as simple as saying, ‘How are you? What’s going on?’”

On a recent morning commute, PIX11 News witnessed the officers shaking hands and even giving hugs, pressing the flesh to break down barriers and earn the trust of the commuters they encounter day in and out.

“You need them. They’re the first people you run to. I’m happy to see them,” one commuter said.

The hope is that NCOs will help drive down crime on the subway to historic low levels like they’ve helped do in neighborhoods citywide.

Currently, overall crime in transit is down nearly 8 percent. Though recently, robberies have shot up to 12 percent year-to-date.

“We’ve had help and feedback from community identifying suspects,” Nieves said.

For example, they’re already seeing more riders snapping pictures of lewd passengers and offering tips about others suspected of a crime.

“They make me feel more comfortable,” Curtis Smith, of Brooklyn, said.

Their outreach is so hands-on, Martinez recently helped deliver a baby on the floor of Transit District 30.

Nieves said that's what it's all about.

“It’s all about meeting people one-by-one, remembering a face,” Nieves said.

The NYPD will continue training transit NCOs to expand their presence in all 12 of the city’s Transit Districts by 2019.