NEW YORK (PIX11) — NYPD officers will focus on dice games, drinking and urinating in public and open-air selling of narcotics as part of a new Quality-of-Life Enforcement Initiative, Commissioner Keechant Sewell said Wednesday.
She said those types of community complaints can be precursors to violence. Chief of Crime Control Strategies Michael LiPetri called it “proactive enforcement.”
“To be clear, this is NOT a return to Stop, Question, and Frisk – nor is it ‘policing for numbers,'” Sewell said in an emailed statement. “This enforcement will be responsive to community complaints and concerns, and will address the violent crime patterns officers and detectives are confronting. This is precision-policing aimed at reducing violence in the neighborhoods seeing disproportionate numbers of shootings – and it is what the public is demanding.”
Though Sewell emphasized that the new policy is not stop-and-frisk policing, Bronx Defenders Managing Director of Impact Litigation Jenn Rolnick Borchetta said the only difference is “wordplay.” The Legal Aid Society called it a reinstatement of Giuliani-era broken windows policing.
“Make no mistake: these are stop-and-frisk units that will target Black and brown people, and New Yorkers who want both safety and equality should be very concerned,” Rolnick Borchetta said. “We should be asking why the city continues to throw more money into failed policing tactics.”
Wong agreed with Rolnick Borchetta that the plan would send more Black and Latinx New Yorkers to jail.
“Broken windows policing has long been discredited for furthering mistrust between the police and the communities we serve, and this rebranded version will yield those same results, with the same disparate enforcement,” Wong said. “This is a botched opportunity for Mayor Adams to address the root cause of crime – poverty and a lack of robust services – and this plan will set our entire city back decades.”
Proponents of the broken windows policing theory argued that ignoring quality-of-life crimes cleared the way for bigger crimes. It was widely employed by former NYPD Commissioner William Bratton under former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Bratton credited the policy with a drop in homicides, rapes and robberies. He praised the plan on Wednesday night.
Under Mayor Eric Adams, a former cop, the NYPD has started a number of other new initiatives. Police recently deployed Neighborhood Safety Teams. Many expressed concern at that unit’s similarities to the disbanded plainclothes anti-crime unit. Adams said the new teams are better trained, especially in de-escalation.
“Why would I spend 30 something years fighting for proper policing and then allow it to erode away?” Adams recently said.
As part of the Quality-of-Life Enforcement Initiative, officers will augment the Neighborhood Safety teams “by expanding their focus beyond 911 calls,” police said. The NYPD said focusing on those issues will help tamp down violence in the city. Per the NYPD, quality-of-life complaints about public drinking and loud parties have jumped in recent years.
The officers will start with issuing warnings over quality-of-life issues, Chief of Department Kenneth Corey said. If officers believe someone is ignoring warnings, there will be enforcement. He did not clarify what he meant by enforcement.
The first wave of enforcement will focus on areas experiencing the most number of shooting incidents in the Bronx and Brooklyn. Specially, they’ll be in Brownsville, East New York and Cypress Hills. PIX11 News has reached out to Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark and Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez’ offices for comment.