The commissioner is reassigning about 600 officers from teams that
target violent crime. He called it a “seismic shift” in police culture.
New York police commissioner announced on Monday that he was disbanding
the Police Department’s anti-crime units: plainclothes teams that
target violent crime and have been involved in some of the city’s most
notorious police shootings.
600 officers serve in the units, which are spread out across the city
and work out of the department’s 77 precincts and nine housing commands.
They will immediately be reassigned to other duties, including the
detective bureau and the department’s neighborhood policing initiative,
the commissioner, Dermot F. Shea, said.
Shea said the plainclothes units were part of an outdated policing
model that too often seemed to pit officers against the communities they
served, and that they were involved in a disproportionate number of
civilian complaints and fatal shootings by the police. He said the
department now depends much more on intelligence gathering and
technology to fight crime and “can move away from brute force.”
is a seismic shift in the culture of how the N.Y.P.D. polices this
great city,” Mr. Shea said. “It will be felt immediately in the
communities that we protect.”
unexpected announcement came after weeks of protests and public unrest
over police brutality after the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, a
black man who was killed when a white police officer knelt on his neck
for nearly nine minutes.
department, the anti-crime units were seen as an elite force aimed at
disarming criminals in the city’s most violent pockets. Created with the
mission of ridding the street of illegal guns and stopping violent
crimes, the units were widely seen as a steppingstone for ambitious
officers who hoped to join the Detective Bureau.
for critics of the department, the anti-crime units have become a
symbol of the aggressive policing strategies that are now being called
into question by the protest movement. Not all are being disbanded:
Those that work in the city’s transit system will remain in their role,
Mr. Shea said, and plainclothes units will continue to operate in other
divisions of the police department.
Mr. Shea said Monday that the anti-crime units were a vestige of the city’s era of “stop-and-frisk,”
when officers routinely searched people in high-crime areas, a practice
that a judge declared unconstitutional after finding it
disproportionately affected people of color.
is 21st-century policing," Mr. Shea said of his decision to disband the
units. “The key difference — we must do it in a manner that builds
trust between the officers and the community they serve.”