NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Police are rolling out a program to get more cops on the street and help deal with the rise in the warmer season’s unpredictable challenges illustrated by familiar examples: A homeless man rolling around the street playing the flute, strung out drug users on K2, or an oblivious man curled up across an active subway track.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill admitted Monday summer makes an officer’s job “more difficult,” reports CBS2’s Marcia Kramer.
The NYPD is launching it’s Summer All-Out program where some 300 cops who normally have desk jobs will be hitting the streets in nine precincts to help reduce spikes in crime, helped soon by 750 recruits graduating from the police academy.
For some, the extra police cannot help soon enough.
“It’s become a way of life you have to live with this,” said Paul Wojcik of Forest Hills. “It’s disturbing to see this going on. It bothers me.”
“It’s very disturbing, as a matter of fact I always see them in front of McDonald’s and no one seems to do anything,” said Lola Greene of the Upper West Side. “They spread out all over the street.”
Law enforcement experts say the problem for patrol officers is that sometimes, there’s not much they can do.
“If it doesn’t rise to the level of an actual crime, they can’t arrest them,” said Manny Gomez, a former NYPD officer and special agent with the FBI. “They can’t even really move them off the street because they have technically not broken any laws.”
Gomez knows all too well that in the summer, the hot weather brings out the homeless, the emotionally disturbed and lately, those who use drugs like the dangerous synthetic marijuana K2.
“They’re acting incoherent, and perhaps they’re even acting aggressively, but all the police can do is engage on a one-on-one and have a conversation with the person, and tell them, ‘hey you need to relax or you need to move on’,” said Gomez.
With summer underway and an increase of more homeless, K2 use and mentally ill, CBS2’s Kramer asked O’Neill about the pressure being put on officers working in such streets.
“We police 365 days a year, whether its cold, hot, in between,” he said. “The men and women of the NYPD are totally committed to keeping the city safe. Is it more difficult in the summer when it’s hot? Yeah… but this is part of policing. When people join the NYPD, they know at the time there will be great difficulties.”