NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Call it the retaking of Manhattan.
A new NYPD unit will flood Times Square and other business hubs with officers to convince workers and tourists the city is a safe place to be.
And as CBS2’s Marcia Kramer has learned, it’s just the first phase of a plan to put extra cops in business districts in all five boroughs to spur the city’s economic recovery.
The scary stories finally got to them, including the 65-year-old Asian woman kicked to the ground and stomped on in what police say was a hate crime.
“You walk around in fear,” Danny Depamphilis said.
The security cameras at Ruby’s bar, which Depamphilis manages, catch crime after crime, including a gun fight along Ninth Avenue in the West 40s.
“It’s getting actually worse,” Depamphilis said.
With economic recovery a top priority — the Times Square area accounts for 15% of the city’s economy, $58 billion — former NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan has crafted a plan to establish a new business improvement unit. It will be made up of 80 uniformed cops and supervisors with one goal — make people feel safe.
“To deal with whatever issues are present within these commercial districts so we can make people feel safe coming back to the office, coming back to work,” Monahan said.
Monahan, the mayor’s new safety recovery czar, said the cops will deal with homeless problems, street peddlers, drug use, and crime. The police will also patrol other business districts from Hudson Yards to SoHo.
“They’re going to be moving around to the different areas within the city that need the help,” Monahan said.
Crime in Midtown is up. The latest statistics show robbery up 166% year to date and felonious assault up 208% for the same period.
Monahan said the cops will work with city agencies to help solve problems, including homeless outreach workers. However, homeless advocates are not happy.
“Mayor de Blasio’s plan to deploy police officers into wealthy Midtown Manhattan to rid the area of New Yorkers who’ve lost their homes is shockingly callous,” said Dave Giffen, executive director of the Coalition for the Homeless.
Tom Harris of the Times Square Alliance is thrilled. He pointed out that only 10% to 15% of the 170,000 people who used to work in the area have returned.
“New York City is not going to recover unless Midtown and Times Square recover, and Times Square and Midtown are not going to recover until we solve some of these challenges,” Harris said.
The comeback plan is not going to be limited to Midtown. Monahan told Kramer he’s also going to create police units to deal with problems in outer borough business districts like on Fordham Road in the Bronx.
The new NYPD unit is in addition to the 600 extra police officers in the subway to make people feel safe.