By Jessica Berk
According to the New York Police Department (NYPD), the new model of policing will be the Neighborhood Community Officer (NCO), to bridge numerous gaps between us and them. This model is “built on improved communication and collaboration between local police officers and community residents.” That’s their press release, but unfortunately, the 6th Precinct didn’t get that memo.
As head of Residents In Distress (RID) and a longtime community activist, I called the officer assigned to my sector, which is Christopher Street. When I finally got him on the phone, he shouted, “This is my day off!” and then abruptly hung up. I haven’t heard from him since, despite repeated calls and messages. Clearly, that lovely touching commercial of bonding with your local cop is an absurd fantasy.
Still needing to clean up our poorly policed area, I called 911 for help (as I’m constantly doing) and had the good fortune to meet Sergeant Joseph Corcoran. After detailing all the problems (e.g., drunken disorderly vagrants, groups of screaming PATH Train folks, flashers, panhandlers) he vowed to “take charge” on his shift and “take back” the neighborhood. DOES IT GET ANY BETTER? Since our first meeting, every subsequent encounter has taught me that, although he is not the assigned NCO, that Hollywood dream of protecting and serving, has come to fruition. Thanks, Sergeant Corcoran, for your dedication and respect. I look forward to working with you.
Sadly, this type of interaction is rare. You all remember our distinguished District Leader Arthur Z. Schwartz, who was arrested for stealing those illegal surveillance cameras (which are still allowed to remain). Was that a community affairs type of policy? Not that we should all be friends, but does always referring to me as a ‘lunatic’ help to build bridges and solve chronic conditions?
Perhaps Officer Vern Miller, who was assigned to my sector, shouldn’t have been reassigned elsewhere. Talk about a tremendously caring and hardworking human being—the perfect example of a cop, one that you could bring home to mother, which I did. Perhaps Retired Detective Frank Serpico said it best, when he contacted me to offer support for my battles in Greenwich Village: “Never give up and never give in. Trust has to be earned not just assigned.”
It’s time to find a better bunch of public servants, or at the very least, appoint another Knapp Commission. I’m available to testify unless the constant threat of being EDP’d to Bellevue keeps being held over my head. See you in court, my friends.