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NEW YORK — The days of police officers blending in to the community in plain clothes will soon be disbanded, but not all together.

“This is a policy shift coming from me, the men and women are doing what we asked,” said Police Commissioner Dermot Shea.

The move may be shocking to some but PIX11 News has learned it’s been done before. Retired NYPD Det. Graham Weatherspoon explains.

“Back in the early 80s, they dismantled transit anti-crime because of lack of personnel,” he said.

In 1999 when Amadou Diallo was shot and killed in a hail of 41 bullets it was plain clothes officers from a Street Crime Unit that mistook Diallo’s wallet for a gun.

After pressure and protests, the NYPD dismantled Street Crime in 2002.

“The street crime unit was disbanded but they renamed it and put another unit in its place,” Weatherspoon said.

The retired detective fears the same will happen now with the 600 officers that make up the anti-crime units across the city.

“Units will be reorganized and come back under a different name,” Weatherspoon said.

Dr. Robert Gonzalez, Retired NYPD Assistant Commissioner, is skeptical about the plan.

“With a spike in crime in the city, this is a bad idea to dismantle anti-crime units,” said Dr. Gonzalez, also an Assistant Commissioner of Training and St. John’s University Criminal Justice Professor.”