NYPD Neighborhood Safety Teams took to the streets to find guns

Hitting the block to get guns off the streets is the mission of the NYPD’s new Neighborhood Safety Teams.

“I recognize that this is extremely difficult work and potentially very dangerous work,” NYPD Department Chief Kenneth Corey told officers from one of the new units in a video released by police Monday.

Teams officially began deploying earlier this week.

What do you want to know

  • New NYPD Neighborhood Safety Teams total 170 officers
  • Mayor Eric Adams vowed he would restore the controversial unit
  • Teams will be in 34 precincts and housing police service areas
  • The former unit was criticized for high-profile shootings, including for killing one of their own

So far, there are 25 teams across the city in high-crime neighborhoods, including the 46th Precinct in the Bronx and the 75th Precinct in Brooklyn. Each team consists of a sergeant and five officers. The ultimate goal is to have one unit in 30 precincts and four housing police service areas.

Former police commissioner Dermot Shea has gotten rid of the former crime unit after plainclothes officers were involved in several high-profile shootings and reform supporters said they were being too aggressive towards black and Hispanic New Yorkers.

Mayor Eric Adams campaigned on a promise to reduce gun violence and restore a revamped unit.

Earl Figuerora owns a barber shop in Harlem and worries about cop tactics. But he is still hosting neighborhood security teams following a spate of shootings in his neighborhood, including the killings of officers Jason Rivera and Wilbert Mora in January.

“No one has more respect for life,” Figueroa said. “I own a business and I want the streets to be protected, I want to be protected and I want my children to be protected and I want everyone to be protected. But I think they probably need to bring them in with a little more training so they know how to deal with the community.

The NYPD says the teams received seven days of training on minimum force techniques, de-escalation, car stops, courtroom testimony and constitution.

The NYPD released recorded video Monday of some officers from the unit assigned to Harlem’s 32nd Precinct interacting with members of the community. The 32nd Precinct is where slain officers Rivera and Mora worked.

Members of Street Corner Resources are breaking up the violence and working to deter young people from using guns. Some supporters worry that although the new cop unit wears clearly marked uniforms, they are still driving in unmarked cars and using an element of surprise while trying to arrest people with illegal weapons.

“Children in the community are carrying now, you can’t just jump,” said Joshua Marte, a supervisor with Street Corner Resources. He says aggressive tactics like this can lead to a shooting in the street.

Iesha Sekou, head of Street Corner Resources, says she hopes the neighborhood security teams will be successful. She says that just like not all cops are bad, not all members of the black and Hispanic communities are bad and she wants officers to remember that.

“Making those standing in front of buildings, in front of corner stores, on stoops hurt them, it’s not about hurting them,” Sekou said. “We’re not trying to harm the police, at the same time we don’t want the police to harm the community.”

Police commanders also emphasized this to new teams as they try to make the city safer.

“You’re going to do it safely and you’re going to do it constitutionally the way you were trained,” NYPD patrol chief Kathleen O’Reilly said in the department’s video kicking off the first day of the teams.

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