The 45th Precinct Community Council is advocating for NYPD ‘paid detail’ options for local businesses that need security in their establishments.
The council unanimously voted at its meeting on Thursday, April 6 to support sending a letter to the NYPD asking them to allow off-duty police officers to provide paid security at bars, nightlife establishments and cafeteria-style restaurants.
The off-duty police officers would be paid by private businesses to ensure safety at any restaurant that may be prone to safety issues, said Bob Bieder, council president.
“The precinct council felt that it makes sense to have police there, because that is where the problems are,” said Bieder. “As far as the local community is concerned, we need them at the bars and restaurants that are serving alcohol because they are deterrent.”
Bieder said that many incidents simply would not occur or escalate into violence if there was a police officer on premise.
The council president said that there are plenty of bars along East Tremont Avenue where paid detail might make sense for owners, as well as on City Island.
After the board’s vote, council member John Doyle said he had a discussion with a chief at NYPD paid detail, in which skepticism was expressed on the part of police about having officers working in establishments serving alcohol.
Current policy prohibits it, he explained.
“We had a conversation and they indicated that there was not a change in policy at this time,” he said.
Nevertheless, Doyle said that the board is pressing forward in writing to James O’Neill, NYPD commissioner about changing policy and expanding the program.
“We would like to see paid detail available for high turnover, high volume establishments that may be open late into the evening,” said Doyle.
He added that that he believes that if paid detail were made available to local business owners, community boards could make stipulations that problematic locations have paid detail during the liquor license renewal process.
He also said that NYPD already has made an exception to its no alcohol rule with paid detail at Yankee Stadium.
Bieder said that in addition to large venues like the stadium, paid detail police could be of use at community-oriented locations.
Hiring paid off-duty police officers is not an inexpensive proposition for business owners, said Bieder, but he is certain it would stop crime before it started.
“Paid detail is not cheap: you have the pay for the police officers time and benefits,” he said. “But no one is going to do something (unlawful) if a cop is standing right outside.”
Barbara Dolensek, City Island Civic Association vice-president, said that her organization wrote to the NYPD on September 27, 2016 about allowing paid detail in restaurants, including those serving alcohol.
The organization feels that paid detail could be successful on City Island, and go a long way to improving quality of life and traffic issues, she said.
Last fall, merchants on the island were concerned because their liability for any incidents involving the police officers could lead to an increase in insurance costs making paid detail cost prohibitive, she said.