As the city prepares to mark the one year anniversary of Eric Garner's death, Mayor Bill de Blasio is focusing his attention on the police department and public safety. He says the city's recent effort to drive down crime is working and he argues that a new focus on neighborhood policing will keep the city safe. NY1's Grace Rauh filed this report.
The mayor's relationship with the police department has been far from easy. After facing an open revolt from officers last year he has seemed determined to get them in his corner. And determined to show New Yorkers he can keep the city safe while transitioning to a new neighborhood policing model.
"Creating safer streets from stronger bonds. Simple concept. Safer streets from stronger bonds between police and community," de Blasio said.
The mayor and police commissioner were at Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx to announce that the city's recent crackdown on crime is going well. On June 8, 330 additional police officers were sent into 10 high-crime precincts as part of the city's Summer All Out program. The mayor says shootings in those precincts are now down nearly 30 percent.
The visit also gave him a chance to promote a new effort to strengthen ties between police and the communities they patrol. In the 47th precinct in the Bronx—where the mayor was—local leaders invited police to a recent dinner.
"The idea of bringing our officers who are new to the community together with community leaders and community members to have a dinner, break bread, get to know each other—that is the kind of thing that is making a huge difference. It is the kind of thing you are going to see a lot more of going forward," the mayor said.
In the past, such meals might have raised concerns about officers crossing ethical line by taking gifts from the people they are expected to police. The police commissioner made it clear he does not see it that way.
"Let's get real. I have no concerns about that. If this community wants to provide a dinner of thank you to these officers lets get real and thank them for thanking these cops," said Police Commissioner William Bratton.
The mayor's applause and pat on the back signaled that he agrees.