New York, NY – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday that “customer service” was going to be “the future of the NYPD” amid a surge in gun violence across the city.
De Blasio told reporters at his daily press briefing on Sept. 30 about the initiative for a “paradigm shift” he called “revolutionary” for the New York Police Department (NYPD).
“Customer service has to be what the NYPD is about,” the mayor announced.
De Blasio said his brainchild came about after listening to years of complaints about NYPD officers treating residents in a “gruff and dismissive” manner at times.
He said the customer service push would include putting “a community guide” inside the entrances to police precincts to greet residents at the door, the New York Post reported.
“So many people who just were trying to exercise their rights to get information or file a concern or complaint, find out what’s happening with a case, they were treated in a way that doesn’t have anything to do with customer service or respect,” the mayor told reporters.
“That’s not acceptable and it’s not going to build the bond we need.”
NYPD Chief of Patrol Juanita Holmes also participated in the announcement.
Chief Holmes told reporters that “all police officers are greeters” but described the mayor’s plan as creating a “warmer, kinder, friendly… gentle environment.”
De Blasio’s declaration that NYPD would shift its focus to customer service came just one day after 16-year-old Jaden Turnage was gunned down on a Brooklyn street, the New York Post reported.
A day earlier, 16-year-old Cahlil Pennington was shot in the head during a broad-daylight gunfight in East New York.
Critics have said the mayor’s customer service paradigm shift is off target given the shocking rise in violent crime the city has experienced during de Blasio’s administration.
But the mayor defended his choice to focus law enforcement officers on “customer service” by claiming that better police-community relations “is absolutely [a] prerequisite to being as safe as we need to be,” the New York Post reported.
Chief Holmes said NYPD would not lose its focus on crime while putting new energy into customer service initiative.
“If you think we can’t focus simultaneously on gun violence, you’re truly mistaken,” she said.
“We have eyes on both areas, which are equally important,” Chief Holmes added.
The mayor’s announcement didn’t go over well with the rank-and-file of the department, either.
“You shouldn’t treat people badly. But we’re not Burger King. It’s not ‘would you like the metal handcuffs or the flex cuffs?’ C’mon!” an NYPD sergeant ranted to The Police Tribune.
“Sure, we are a service-based field. But the service that we render isn’t necessarily one where the customer is always right. And very frequently, our customers are not right,” he explained.
An NYPD officer told the New York Post he thought the whole customer service initiative was “the most horrified idea” he’d heard since joining the police force.
“Since when did policing become like walking into a T-Mobile store? Policing is not a pretty business so let’s not pretend that it is,” the officer said. “If someone is coming to a precinct, they have a problem that we need to deal with — not hope they give us a 5-star review on ‘UberPolice.’”
“I can’t wait for the next chief’s bright idea to put every member of service into an Instagram and we all get rated. Failure to have a minimum of followers will result in termination,” the officer said sarcastically, according to the New York Post.