New Strategy To Prevent & Address Youth Crime Builds On Neighborhood Policing

Published on January 29, 2020, 5:51 pm
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Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, during the State of the NYPD address today, announced the Department’s strategy to take Neighborhood Policing to the next level through new initiatives to protect and serve all kids. This includes proactively intervening with youth before they engage in criminal activity, and also reaching young people and connecting them to resources so they can pursue a path to opportunities to reach their full potential.

The core of this strategy includes the establishment of Youth Coordination Officers, leveraging the School Safety Division, launching YouthStat and working to leverage underutilized spaces across New York City to engage youth. This approach draws on talented, committed NYPD personnel, and their accumulated previous encounters with young people to make a lasting and positive difference in their lives. The NYPD is also establishing and institutionalizing closer coordination with law enforcement partners and community-based service organizations to identify opportunities for intervention with young people. By fostering meaningful connections with teenagers and equipping our officers with the resources to connect them with critical services, NYPD police officers will work towards preventing young New Yorkers from being led on a downward trajectory of crime, and work towards our common goal of keeping all kids safe.

Excerpts from Commissioner Shea’s State of the NYPD speech:

“We can do far better, both within the NYPD and in coordination with a range of city agencies and community-based organizations. That’s what the NYPD’s new youth strategy is all about: Drawing on our talented, committed personnel, and on the accumulated previous encounters with these young people to make a lasting and positive difference in their lives. At the same time, we will establish and institutionalize far closer cooperation with our law-enforcement partners and community-based service organizations to identify the opportunities for intervention with young people early in the progression that risks turning them into criminals.”

“The first step is to redefine what our NYPD youth officers do. We’re establishing a new role in all of our precincts and Housing Bureau police service areas on the model of our Neighborhood Coordination Officers called the Youth Coordination Officer, or YCO. As the title implies, YCOs will play a critical coordinating role, maintaining awareness of troubled youth and connecting better and sooner with them. They also will coordinate with the other cops in the precinct, and with city agencies and local community-service groups that have a stake in improved youth outcomes, which, I would say, is everyone.

“And our new Youth Coordination Officers will be the force multipliers who bring people together, citywide. We must bring everyone to the table to lock arms. The NYPD, as you know, already tracks crime and detects crime patterns in ways that are second-to-none among the other police departments on Earth. And we know that our new youth strategy is a real step forward that will allow us to measure – in some manner – crime prevention. To measure assists, if you will. Crimes that did not happen, lives that did not end, families that were kept intact because young people were helped every step of the way.

“Thank you, Commissioner Shea and the entire NYPD, for all the work you do 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to keep New Yorkers safe,” said Susan Birnbaum President and CEO of the New York City Police Foundation. “Public safety is more than reducing and preventing crime, it is fundamental to building strong, cohesive, and vibrant communities. Through innovative neighborhood policing programs, we have made tremendous strides in the past year. We look forward to building on these gains in the coming year with new programs that further engage youths and local communities.”

Below are the key components of this initiative:

  • Youth Coordination Officers: The creation of a Youth Coordination Officer (YCO) role in every precinct, modeled after the Neighborhood Coordination Officer. YCOs will be precinct experts and force multipliers for all youth-related matters. They will partner with city agencies and local community-service groups that have a stake in improved youth outcomes.
  • Leveraging School Safety Division: The youth strategy incorporates the 5,500 school safety officers into command-level strategy meetings to enhance information sharing and connect young people to essential resources.
  • YouthStat: Monthly “YouthStat” meetings will be held with key agency partners to methodically address the issues and identify opportunities to better protect and serve young people across the city.
  • Activate Spaces: The “activation” of underutilized fields, gyms, and classrooms citywide with productive and engaging activities geared toward young people.

The new youth strategy was announced at the Police Commissioner’s annual State of the NYPD address. This event is supported by the New York City Police Foundation, whose collaboration with the NYPD has proven effective for nearly half a century. It is partnerships like these that set an example for the NYPD’s new youth strategy. With the Police Foundation’s support of essential programs such as the Options Program, which uses virtual reality technology to build relationships between police officers and young people, the Department will continue to meaningfully engage young people across the city. Additional programs funded by the Foundation, including Explosive Detection K9 training and Crime Stoppers, have helped usher in an era of unprecedented public safety in New York City. Just last month, the Foundation helped roll-out 550 lightweight ballistic vests to ensure undercover officers and members of our Detective Bureau can comfortably wear this live-saving protection while in plainclothes.

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