NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — As businesses start bringing more employees back to work, a lot of their concern has shifted from COVID-19 safety to public safety.
Monahan walks a different kind of beat these days.
“You’re not getting those phone calls in the middle of the night anymore,” he said.
The retired NYPD Chief of Department traded in his police uniform for a suit and tie, and a new office at the city’s Department of Small Business Services.
“I’m senior advisor for COVID recovery safety planning. It entails, What can we do to make businesses feel comfortable to come back to New York? How do we get tourists back to New York?” Monahan said.
Monahan said at this point, most companies and businesses feel like they have protocols in place to keep employees healthy. But now their concern is public safety.
Workers told Grymes the city has a big job.
“Obviously, have to reduce the crime a lot, or at least the perception of crime,” Lower Manhattan worker Gabriel Del Virginia said.
“It looks like the crack era, so they can do more. I don’t know what they do to address mental health,” worker Sakina McIntosh said.
“You get stories about the homeless. You get stories about the increase in crime,” Marc Toncre added.
All of that is exactly what Monahan hopes to combat. He started at the end of March, meeting mostly on Zoom with corporations and businesses across the city. He’s the point person to help cut through the bureaucracy and resolve problems that are stopping people from returning.
“For this city to recover, people need to feel safe when they come into the city. It’s my role to make sure every city agency is working together to provide that level of safety, and I advise the mayor on what’s going on and what needs to be done,” Monahan said.
“So what is the difference between this and what the police commissioner has to do?” Grymes asked.
“I’m working with every city agency. I’m working with DHS for homeless. I’m working with Department of Consumer Worker Protection when we deal with vending issues,” Monahan said. “We put together a team that sits together weekly. City agencies have to know that if there’s a problem, we’re going to try and address it.”
Monahan said perhaps the biggest concern he hears is about safety on the subways. He said he worked with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the NYPD to get more officers assigned in the system, boosting numbers to 1,100 more officers a day.
They’ve also added more cops and other city resources at Penn Station and in Times Square, where a handful of recent shootings made international headlines as part of a spike in gun violence across the city.
Monahan said a big part of his job is not only dealing with crime, but the perception of crime.
“Last year was a tough year. Shootings went up, doubled. Brought us back to 2010. Those are the numbers. These aren’t the 1980s and ’90s,” he said.
Monahan said he knows it’s an uphill battle, but the Bronx native is an eternal optimist.
“You can feel the vibe in the city coming back,” he said.
He truly believes the best is yet to come for the Big Apple.
Monahan spent nearly 40 years in the NYPD, retiring earlier this year.