After five years of the implementation of the ‘Neighborhood Watch’ of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) that created special brigades to target high-crime communities, balances and opinions found on the real effect of this strategy on crime control. And, particularly, to which ethnic group is still being arrested more frequently in the Big Apple.
On the one hand, several reports shown by civil organizations show that poor neighborhoods of color remain disproportionately the target of the uniformed, and on the other hand, the City boasted of displaying for 36 continuous months, before the 2020 pandemic, a “historical” decrease in the crime rate.
Now a new investigation titled ‘Effects of the Neighborhood Police in NYC’, disclosed by academics from the Departments of Sociology of the Universities of Colorado and Florida, accurately reflects that this strategy did indeed reduce arrests in all five boroughs, but people of color were 3.6 more times stopped than other ethnic groups.
Misdemeanor arrests decreased 28% and arrests for misdemeanors possessing drugs, weapons, or driving while intoxicated They fell by 61%, according to the study that includes the observation between January 2006 and January 2019 of 76 police headquarters in the five counties, which have in common being areas of ‘tension’ between the relationship of the officers with the communities.
“There was no real decrease in crime”
In a categorical way, the study shared by both universities does not attribute to the ‘Neighborhood Police’ plan a significant impact on the “real decrease in the crime rate”.
“This surveillance model did not have an impact on the control of certain crimes. Although it shows a lower rate of criminal actions in general in the city. We suspect that this change was due to Police used their discretion to make fewer arrests, consequently there were fewer underlying crimes ”, states the report in its conclusions.
The group of researchers stresses that although neighborhood surveillance reduced arrests and subsequent judicial prosecutions, it is obvious that this model of community intervention did not affect the “racial proportion of such arrests ”. A reasoning shared by at least six analyzes released in recent weeks.
Another finding that the academic report needs is that in some neighborhoods where white communities were approximately 1.5 times more numerous, they were arrested less than a third as often as their neighbors of color.
Everything indicates that the unemployment rates in each locality where the program was implemented had a certain impact on the way the communities were approached.
“Intervention in areas with high levels of job unemployment it had a negative effect on the balance on the disparity ”, the analysis maintains, where it is also clarified that the perception or assessment of New Yorkers about the achievements of this strategy of community outreach was not measured.
“We have no way of ensuring, if after these actions the police are perceived as closer to people”They pondered.
The new age
In 2015, the NYPD launched this community policy of ‘neighborhood watch’ designed to reduce crime, and furthermore, lower racial tensions in some locations in the Big Apple, in the heat of the historical controversy over alleged ‘racist conduct’ by police officers.
Mayor Bill de Blasio deemed it a “truly transformative” plan that was being implemented “on the largest scale to ensure that the people of this city have a police force that is deeply connected to the neighborhood ”.
Meanwhile, when he was Police Commissioner, Bill Bratton characterized the adoption of this strategy as the NYPD’s passage “into a new era.” For this, the police stations were restructured and more than 1,200 new officers were trained to become a link with the neighbors, rather than repressors of crime.
After five years of its application, this strategy meets the pandemic and the movements against police brutality. Academic voices and denunciations of coalitions that push for judicial reforms, continue to put a ‘Explosive trigger’ of rejection of the action of the Uniformada in the poorest neighborhoods.
Community activist from The Bronx, Miguel Zacarías, 55 years old, He comments that “if you see the full movie, the only thing that happened is that they sent more police to the poorest sectors. Each of these police stations are different. There are some where there are policies of approach and listen to the people, but there are others that do not. It is an uneven plan ”.
In the words of Zacarías, the ‘Stop and Frisk’ methodology that for years has “criminalized blacks and Latinos “ Rather, it was a different approach that “softened” it, but deep down it is the same.
The authorities of the city of New York have shown in their balance sheets a decrease from 1.8% to 5% in monthly crime reports such as theft, robbery, rape, assault and crimes in general on the Subway.
To cite one example, the former NYPD commissioner James O’Neil before leaving his position last year, reported as a relevant achievement that until October 2018 the general crime rate reported 80,313 cases, in that same period in 2019, the number was 78,887.
More reports, more disparity
Other recent reports have fueled the fire of this controversy.
A report from John Jay College last September found that police disparities are most questionable when broken down by age: African-American or Latino people ages 18-20 they are almost eight times more likely to be arrested than white people.
It is also evidenced by official figures that agents continue to arrest black New Yorkers almost twice as much as whites, although they similarly conclude that there was a considerable “drop” in arrests according to a cross-over of official information between 2003 and 2018.
Given the acid rain of reports, one of the promoters of the community policing agenda, former police commissioner Bill Bratton reacted to local media by stating that police statistics are associated with the places where more calls to 911 are received.
“It is obvious that simply the police go where the neighbors report the most criminal acts. That is the account that must be drawn ”, he pointed out.
In Bronx neighborhoods that are generally at the table in this discussion, because there are percent poorer neighborhoods and violent, more than a dozen organizations that fight for the end of mass incarcerations and promote changes in the criminal justice system, continue to weigh with their figures at hand, that the “NYPD’s systemic racism is far to be part of the history of the city ”.
In contrast, other coalitions such as ‘Life Camp‘, which links with communities to prevent armed violence, show that between 2016 and 2018, it has been achieved a 15% decrease in shootings, at the 17 most violent police stations in New York City.
Voices from the Bronx
Opinion in the streets is also very divided. Bronx residents like the Mexican Mireya Zaas, 58, He says that with 20 years living in the Kinsgbridge area, he has seen how the police officers have been more active on the streets of his neighborhood. And consider that now “it is safer.”
“A lot of drugs, a lot of people who do nothing, if not be on street corners since morning, without a job. I do not agree with that attack on the police. Rather we need a thousand more. He who does not owe it does not fear it ”, exclaimed the woman from Puebla.
Also, the Puerto Rican Remo Cruz raised in Salsa County describes that in the tremont avenue he has not observed any difference over the years.
“If you are not in trouble and you live in peace, you should not have complicated contacts with the police. This sector used to be hotter, but now he is calmer, “said the islander.
The boricua Miguel Vásquez with “all his life in the Bronx” has a different vision, as he points out that the presence of the NYPD is usually “Very negative” in general terms.
“The officers are on their own. I don’t think they here in Kingsbridge had any interest in having harmonious contact with the neighbors. Much less listen. They do their job and we continue our life if we are not in trouble, “concludes Vásquez.
‘Hard’ figures on disparity:
- 93% of the total Of 473 minors between the ages of 16 and 17 detained between June and October 2019 in the Big Apple were of color and Latino, according to an analysis released in August by the Youth Justice Reseach Collaborative (YJRC).
- 5.8 times more shares such as arrests, fines or searches against Afro-descendants compared to whites between 2003 and 2018. This is stated by John Jay College.
- 9 times greater were the police actions against minority youth between 16 and 17 years, in contrast to whites in the same period of time graphs the same report.
- 150,000 were arrested For evading the Subway payment system in 2015, the year the Neighborhood Watch Plan began, 92% of those captured were Hispanics and African Americans, says the Judicial Reform Project.