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Scope on NYC’s Public Safety Update: Collaborative Approaches, Crime Statistics

Chief of Operations for the Office of Public Safety, Justin S. Meyers, conducted the weekly briefing to shed light on various safety concerns, initiatives, and emerging trends in the city
Alina Wang
A native of New York, Alina has a Bachelors degree in Corporate Communications from Baruch College and writes about human rights, politics, tech, and society.
Published: August 8, 2023
On Aug. 4, 2023, a public safety briefing spearheaded by Chief of Operations for the Office of Public Safety Chief Justin S. Meyers and several public safety officials was held at the Blue Room in Lower Manhattan’s City Hall to discuss collaborative efforts across multiple domains. (Image: Vision Times Staff)

NEW YORK, New York — On Aug. 4, a public safety briefing spearheaded by Chief Meyers and several public safety officials from the New York City Police Department (NYPD) was held at the Blue Room in Lower Manhattan’s City Hall to discuss collaborative efforts across multiple domains. 

Joined by NYPD Deputy Commissioner for collaborative policing, Chauncey Parker; Deputy Commissioner for Police & Security, John Cosgrove; and NYPD Chief of Transit Michael Kemper and Sergeant Patrick Kwan, the briefing noted the decrease of recent crime statistics, and highlighted the implementation of new programs and resources put in place to enhance the quality of life of New Yorkers and protect them from drug abuse, human and drug trafficking, and grand larceny. 

Recent crime statistics

Addressing a concern on many people’s minds, Chief Meyers updated the public on recent crime statistics plaguing residents. Contrary to the expected surge in crime rates during the summertime, the city witnessed a substantial decline, thanks to Mayor Eric Adams’ focus on policing and the relentless efforts of NYPD officers, said Chief Meyers. 

For July, overall crime decreased by 5.7 percent compared to the same time last year, he noted. Specifically, the city saw a dip in five of the seven major crime categories:

  • Homicides: Down by 35.3 percent
  • Rape: Decreased by 17.3 percent
  • Robbery: A drop of 13.6 percent
  • Burglary: Reduced by 17.6 percent

In addition, hate crimes decreased by about 8 percent compared to the previous year, Meyers noted. And though there’s been a marginal increase in felony assaults, a pressing concern is the rise in grand larceny of automobiles — particularly those that target specific car models. Chief Meyers pointed out the influence of certain TikTok challenges and other social media trends that teach people about theft techniques. 

“We have seen an uptick in auto thefts in particular neighborhoods throughout the city,” said Chief Meyers. “You may have heard of some TikTok challenges and other social media events that are teaching people how to steal certain models of Kias and Hyundais with relative ease.” 

In response, the NYPD is launching a comprehensive approach to public education for grand larceny, including tips on how to prevent such thefts from occurring in the first place, and how to prevent giving criminals access to easy targets and opportunities. 

Furthermore, major crimes in the city’s subway system decreased by 9.9 percent in July, Chief Meyers pointed out. This trend “reflects the commendable efforts by the NYPD in enhancing public safety” and maintaining smooth operations in the city’s public transit system, he added. 

A collaborative approach

The spotlight then moved to Deputy Commissioner for collaborative policing, Chauncey Parker, who spearheads the NYPD’s collaborative efforts via a federal program called: the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Task Force (HIDTA) for the New York-New Jersey region. 

HIDTA aims to strengthen the city’s defense against challenges such as drug trafficking, illegal weapons, and the fentanyl crisis. By combining forces with the NYPD, HIDTA ensures the development of integrated strategies to keep New Yorkers safe and informed. 

“HIDTA is a federal grant that invests in law enforcement partnerships to build safe and healthy communities,” said Parker, adding, “We’re involved in investments for drug task forces that led to the Chapo Guzman Sinaloa cartel, as well as other major international drug trafficking investigations in money laundering.” 

Parker also noted that the city has been working on “strategically redirecting asset forfeiture funds,” seized from drug dealers and reinvesting these funds back into the community.

“We’ve successfully renovated 15 basketball courts in public housing over the past few years,” said Parker, adding, “Additionally, we’re in the process of constructing an indoor baseball center. We’re also proud contributors to the ‘Saturday Lights’ program, an initiative launched by the mayor that began with a single gym and has since expanded.”

“All the [work we do] stems from the Mayor’s vision of the importance of partnerships — and how we need to get everyone from all corners of government, and all corners of the community, to achieve a common North Star.” 

Access to clean water

Next, the Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Commissioner for police and security, John Cosgrove, gave his remarks on water safety and access to safe filtration systems. He gave insights into the DEP’s commitment to safeguarding the city’s water supply, and how the agency leverages cutting-edge tools and technologies to ensure that over 10 million residents and visitors benefit from high-quality drinking water straight from their taps. 

“The Croton Water System was designed at the turn of the century in 1900 to provide Manhattan with superior drinking water,” said Cosgrove. “As the city grew, the predecessor to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) began constructing the Catskill aqueduct and a series of reservoirs at higher elevations. This was done to create a larger and more advanced water supply system for the city.”

Cosgrove highlighted how the city’s water supply infrastructure has transformed into an engineering marvel. Through “brilliant engineering,” these aqueducts now deliver one billion gallons of high-quality drinking water daily to New York City from a watershed nearly the size of the state of Delaware This intricate system extends 125 miles north and west from City Hall, traversing through eight suburban and upstate counties. 

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The DEP Police Department has been the guardian of New York City’s water supply and its infrastructure for over a century, even predating World War I, noted Cosgrove. 

“Our approach to safeguarding the 2,000 square-mile watershed and the technology underpinning it has seen significant evolution over the years,” he said. “The modern DEP Police Aviation Unit utilizes cutting-edge technology to inspect the entire length of an aqueduct within a single day.”

Bolstering transit safety

Delving into transit safety, NYPD’s Chief of Transit, Chief Michael Kemper, and Sergeant Patrick Kwan shared invaluable safety pointers for daily subway commuters, emphasizing the continuous efforts to maintain security across the city’s expansive subway network.

“The commitment to public safety has been a top priority,” said Chief Kemper, noting how crime had spiked by nearly 40 percent during the coronavirus pandemic. “People were concerned, and rightfully so.” 

Since then, the city’s transit agency has bolstered patrol efforts and crime rates have since lowered to nine percent. “Crime is down over 6 percent versus 2018,” said Chief Kemper. “Looking at the first seven months of this year and comparing it to historic numbers, we are seeing some of the lowest [crime] numbers in recorded history within our subway systems.” 

“We heard from our employees [following the pandemic] citing public safety as a major hurdle to going back to in-office work,” said Sgt. Kwan. “We heard those concerns, and the NYPD saw it fit to conduct outreach to arm our riders with some really salient points and safety tips to better their commutes and increase their safety.” 

In addition, Sgt. Kwan made note of the OMNY payment system that has been “seamlessly integrated” into both the subway and bus systems across the city. 

“This system accepts payments through RFID-equipped credit or debit cards, smartphones, and notably, smartwatches,” said Kwan. “These modern turnstiles act as crucial entry points to the subway system.”

Looking ahead

The city’s July crime statistics underscore the progress New York has made in becoming a safer environment. Mayor Eric Adams’ commitment to prioritizing public safety since his election has played a pivotal role in this advancement, the speakers noted. 

As the briefing approached its end, emphasis was placed on the significance of collaborative policing and community partnership. 

Both Chief Meyers and Deputy Commissioner Parker reiterated the importance of collective efforts in addressing public safety concerns. Parker’s dual roles in the NYPD and HIDTA are illustrative of this collaborative approach — emphasizing that in order to achieve genuine, long-lasting changes — all agencies and workers must be united in this goal.

In conclusion, while challenges persist, the city’s proactive strategies, community involvement, and collaboration between various agencies aim to provide a safer, more secure future for all New Yorkers.