With gun violence already on the rise in New York, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton has outlined a controversial new plan to fight the city’s most depressing summer tradition. (The city’s murder and crime rates are dropping, but in the first half of 2014 shootings were up 8 percent from the same period last year). According to a memo obtained by the New York Times and Capital, Bratton is launching a program called “Summer All Out,” which will temporarily reassign 400 officers and detectives from desk jobs to precincts and public housing developments “to assist those commands in their crime suppression efforts.” A department spokesman said they’re still selecting officers and assessing where they’ll be deployed, but many in the department are already grumbling.
The department has temporarily reassigned desk officers before, but not on this scale. “They’ve done ‘all outs’ in the past, a day or two a week, or a day or two a month,” said Roy T. Richter, the president of the Captains Endowment Association, the union that represents high-ranking officers. “But nothing to this extent in my memory, and that goes back at least 20 years.”
The memo asks deputy commissioners to select officers for reassignment from across more than two dozen bureaus, including 55 from training posts, 32 from the Internal Affairs Bureau, and 34 from counterterrorism and intelligence positions.
NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis painted the program as a way to address “a spike in some activity,” which is “not uncommon for the summer period,” but others said it’s a sign of a larger problem. Recently, the City Council proposed hiring another 1,000 cops at a cost of $94 million, which Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city couldn’t afford. In a compromise reached last month, the budget included $6 million to hire 200 civilian workers for desk jobs, freeing up the officers currently in those positions.
Pat Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said the new program “is a clear and unambiguous admission that the NYPD does not have enough police officers on patrol,” adding that it’s “a last-ditch, Band-Aid response to the escalating gun violence and disorder in this City.”