An important community policing effort had arrived on the borough’s subway lines.
The NYPD’s Neighborhood Coordination Officers initiative has arrived on three Bronx subway lines in Transit District 12, with new officers trained in community policing riding on the IRT #2, #5 and #6 lines.
The program, which some have compared to a ‘cop-on-the-beat’ for the 21st century according to a recent Bronx Times article, is being rolled out only in Transit District 12 and another in Brooklyn for now. It commenced Sunday, April 1.
NCO officers have their pictures and e-mails on posters throughout subway stations along the lines they patrol every day.
They will even give out cell phone numbers to some of the people they meet to remain up to date on conditions, according to sources.
They are getting to know the passengers and subway personnel, as well as troubled locations and conditions, NYPD personnel said.
Deputy Inspector Joyce Williams, Transit District 12 commanding officer, said that there is a community in the transit system despite any misconceptions to the contrary.
Officers can form a bond with the people who use the various lines every day, as well as with Metropolitan Transportation Authority employees, she said.
“That’s the community we deal with,” said Williams. “And being able to foster a relationship with them helps us address crime conditions, give us information about possible perpetrators that are wanted and can also alert us to different conditions going on at specific stations.”
The officers can be contacted directly if they see a perpetrator that is wanted by the police, for example, said Williams.
She noted that in one instance two NCOs officers working at the Transit District 12 headquarters at East 180th Street and Morris Park Avenue were able to help a man who was found crying in a wheelchair during a snowstorm because he did not believe he could get home because of the weather. Two of the borough’s NCOs in training during the March blizzard pushed the man home about a mile in the snow, said Williams.
The NCOs will continue to address conditions like farebeating and selling swipes, which are both criminal, she said.
These crimes won’t be tolerated, said police sources.
The Bronx Times got to speak with two NCO officers assigned to the IRT #6 line, identified by the inspector as police officers Manny Burgos and Jason Melendez.
Posters with Burgos and Melendez’s photos, along with that of Rachelle Glazier, MTA chief station officer, are up in stations along the IRT #6.
“It makes me feel a like a celebrity a little bit,” said Melendez, a 13-year veteran of the force, when he saw his poster at the Westchester Square station recently.
Already the two NCOs have seen action.
Burgos, an NYPD officer with nine years experience in transit, said they were able to stop a concerted farebeating effort at the Pelham Bay Park station that had been occurring between 6 to 8 a.m. most mornings, involving about 20 to 30 individuals.
They were also able to arrest a man selling swipes at the Parkchester section found to have about 50 rounds of ammunition, magazines and burglars tools, both in his bag – and stuffed into his pants.
The NCOs are interacting with the riders.
On Tuesday, May 8 at the Westchester Square station, Burgos was handing out basketballs that had on them the name of hero Detective Steven McDonald, a patrolman who was paralyzed by gunshots in the line of duty in 1986 and who later went onto to advocate for forgiveness and self-worth.
The public is informing both officers of conditions that need addressing, confirmed Burgos.
“Everybody here is taking the same trains and the same times, so you get to know these people,” said Burgos. “We ride the same trains every day, north and south. We see the same faces every day.”
What the NCOs are doing is fostering a shared responsibility and a collaborative approach, according to police sources.
In a statement from the transit NCO launch, Glazier stated: “We are pleased the NYPD is trying a creative new approach to make our customers’ rides more safe and secure.”
Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said deploying NCO officers to the subways would add another layer of safety for commuters.
“The NCOs are great liaisons between the police and the public, and they are vital tools in preventing, deterring and solving crime,” said Clark. “Seeing the same officer in the station as you catch the train every day brings a sense of security.”