CBS2’s Dave Carlin got an exclusive look at what it is and how tenacious neighbors made it happen.
Officers inside their patrol vehicles are not just not present enough, said merchants and neighbors of drug-infested, violent Ninth Avenue with its increasingly blighted blocks north and south of 42nd Street.
Gunshots, slashings and muggings, fires set and emotionally disturbed people by the dozens who become familiar faces.
But now cops become more familiar, known by name, out of the cars, walking the beat.
There are at least eight officers visible, dedicated to these blocks.
“Based on behavior, we’ll take action,” said Deputy Inspector Kevin Coleman, commanding officer at the 10th precinct.
“We’re so thrilled that they’re doing it,” community activist Holly-Anne Devlin said.
A group led by Devlin partnered with police, prodding them with constant calls, backed up with impossible-to-ignore photos and videos by the hundreds.
“We send them to NYPD, we timestamp them,” she said.
“Do you think this community did something good?” Carlin asked Coleman.
“The credit is all theirs, this is a community initiative,” Coleman said. “They came up with this ‘Eight For Eight’ term that they coined, which meant eight cops in the area for eight weeks.”
The initiative started Monday.
“I have seen more cops on the street, yes,” one resident said.
The owner of a Ninth Avenue liquor store has a wall of shame of alleged robbers.
“The guy who was here, he maced one of my coworkers,” the liquor store owner said.
He says officers who are part of the pilot program came to him with a promise to be around more often.
The officers on foot and on the beat have challenges; social distancing and mistrust may keep some citizens from engaging. The hope is, over time, that will change.
“We want to have good relations with the public,” Coleman said.
Coleman says multi-agency cooperation is needed and arrests alone cannot fix what troubles the streets.
But with enforcement better tailored to a community — in this case, putting officers’ feet on the street — that’s a big step.
The “Eight For Eight” program lasts until September, but it appears likely to be extended and replicated in other neighborhoods.