There has been lots of talk from the outgoing and incoming police commissioners about their new community policing program. It is supposed to help fight crime and improve police-community relations in neighborhoods of color. NY1 Criminal Justice Reporter Dean Meminger went on a ride along with cops in Brooklyn to check it out.
In the 79th Precinct, they're known as Salt and Pepper. John Bruchanan and Robert Bramble are Neighborhood Coordination Officers, which makes them part of an expanding program in which the same cops work the same streets every day to get to know the people they're supposed to serve and protect.
The Neighborhood Coordination Officer program began last year, and just moved into the 79th Precinct this summer.
It's a return of the old community policing concept encouraging officers to solve problems while also breaking down the mistrust that can develop between cops and the neighborhoods they police.
But don't mistake it as soft on crime.
"The purpose of collaborating with different sources and different people in the neighborhood is so that we gain information that we otherwise would not have gotten," Bramble said.
"We are not shaking hands and kissing babies and that is all we do," Bruchanan added. "We are still cops. And our main function is crime fighting we are just using the community and networking to do that."
The program is expected to be a cornerstone of incoming Commissioner James O'Neill's strategy - as Chief of Department, he helped develop it.
Along Fulton Avenue business owners say the program works and they appreciate it.
"We have been getting to know them and they have been getting to know us," said one business owner. "We feel very comfortable with them. We feel very secure that they are on the job."
"Always coming here, say you okay, everything all right, you don't have no problem," added another. "Any problem, call us."
The officers say their age enables them to work with young adults in making the community safer.
"A lot of the times the people who have significant problems in the neighborhood, significant information to provide us are the younger folks and they have not been really reached out to and now as a younger officer, I feel I am more able to do that," said Bramble.
By this fall, the NCO program is expected to be in half of all precincts including all public housing commands.