New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio was ripped over a new initiative announced on Thursday that spends millions of city tax dollars on a “customer service” initiative involving the NYPD, even as violent crime and shootings have skyrocketed over the past year.
In announcing the new program at his daily press conference, DeBlasio said it involves placing a community guide in each precinct to greet people as they enter the building, which he described as “revolutionary” and a “paradigm shift” in how the police department deals with the public.
“Customer service has to be what the NYPD is about. It’s never existed previously,” DeBlasio, who has often been criticized by NYPD officials for his approach to the department, told assembled reporters. “It is simple, it is basic, it is powerful.”
DeBlasio went on to say that the program is in response to complaints over the years from citizens who claimed that officers have been “gruff and dismissive.”
“So many people who just were trying to exercise their rights to get information or file a concern or complaint, find out what’s happening with a case, they were treated in a way that doesn’t have anything to do with customer service or respect,” he added. “That’s not acceptable and it’s not going to build the bond we need.”
Community guides will be NYPD employees but will be dedicated as customer service representatives whose job it will be to meet and greet people as they come into precincts. They will also answer questions from visitors.
The outgoing mayor acknowledged there will be a difference between the customer service rep and the precinct desk sergeant, noting that the rep’s job will be simply to answer questions from visitors. The desk sergeants will continue being responsible for dealing with requests and instructions from the precinct command, according to NYPD Chief of Patrol Juanita Holmes, who spoke at the press conference.
She added that while “all police officers are greeters,” the mayor’s initiative will create a “warmer, kinder, friendly…gentle environment.”
The New York Post reported that the initiative will cost city taxpayers about $5.7 million annually to staff up to 180 greeters.
The Post noted that DeBlasio’s announcement came on the heels of another gun-related murder. Jaden Turnage, 16, was chased down a street and shot in Bedford-Stuyvesant. In addition, another 16-year-old, Nisayah Sanchez, a reputed gang member, was shot and killed by two people in broad daylight Wednesday in the Bronx.
But DeBlasio’s plan was ripped by some within the NYPD, according to The Post. One source called the plan “just stupid and crazy,” while another police source described it as “utterly the most horrific idea I’ve heard thus far being on the job.”
“Since when did policing become like walking into a T-Mobile store? Policing is not a pretty business so let’s not pretend that it is,” one officer said, according to The Post.
“If someone is coming to a precinct, they have a problem that we need to deal with — not hope they give us a 5-star review on ‘UberPolice.’”
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