Hooray! Mayor de Blasio is expanding his “friendly faces” neighborhood policing to the subways. Cops will be assigned to specific subway stations and lines, and their names and e-mail addresses made public knowledge. Sounds good. But will it work in real life__and in real time?
According to the mayor, Neighborhood Coordination Officers (NCOs) will be at our beck and call should a problem arise.
But what about in a subway emergency? If the city is increasing the number of cops who patrol subway stations, that’s great, as is knowing their names and faces. But it remains unclear how many more officers will be actively patrolling subway cars. That’s priority #1. In a crisis, will having the NCO’s e-mail really help?
Let’s take what happened last week, when a guy sprawled out across a number of seats on the A train, riders complained, and he pepper sprayed a woman in the face.
Say your friendly NCO is nowhere in sight, and pepper spray guy is coming down the car toward you.
I pull out my cell and frantically e-mail.
“Hi, Officer Friendly! How R U? There’s a guy pepper spraying people in the 3rd car of the A train at the High Street Station. If you are on this train, could you scoot over? Thanks!”
The lunatic gets closer to you, spraying away while screaming “I’m Donald Trump!”
You e-mail again. “Officer Friendly? The guy’s just a few feet away now, still spraying—Aggh! I canned sea! Gelp!”
What are the odds your NCO is going to check his in box and get to you in time? Wait a minute—an answer! Hard to read it with my eyes burning, but I think it says “I will be moving shortly.”
So let’s assume e-mails are primarily for resolving non-crisis situations. According to NYPD Chief of Transit Edward Delatorre, “If the NCO happens to be away, on vacation, or for whatever reason, the NCOs are not available…we’ll make sure somebody gets back to that person. In a perfect world, my vision is that you connect to the officer, you discuss the problem, if the officer can’t resolve it through email, the officer will reach out to the station manager, and maybe set up a meeting.”