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Police Strategy No. 5: Reclaiming the Public Spaces of New York

NCJ Number
Date Published
49 pages
Surveys indicate many residents of New York City believe their quality of life is declining due to crime and disorder, especially in such public spaces as parks, playgrounds, streets, and plazas.
Over the years, the use of public spaces has been curtailed in response to aggressive panhandling, street prostitution, public drunkenness, reckless bicyclists, graffiti, and other criminal activity. Fear exacerbated by disorder has caused people to stay away from parks and to stop using public transportation. In response, the New York City Police Department is committed to the following actions: (1) give police precinct commanders the authority to respond to an array of disorderly conditions; (2) increase civil enforcement initiatives, with more attorneys to help close illegal businesses and supply proactive consultation to police precinct and division commanders; (3) limit the use of desk appearance tickets for low-level quality of life offenses; (4) create and maintain a citywide database of chronic emotionally disturbed persons so that repeated outbreaks of behavior that are criminal or otherwise dangerous can be brought to the attention of judges, prosecutors, and psychiatrists; (5) conduct a citywide campaign to secure public help in removing graffiti; and (6) advance a quality of life legislative agenda to enhance the police department's ability to respond effectively to disorderly conditions and low-grade criminal activity that increase public fear. Specific policies and procedures of the police department to make public spaces safer and to improve quality of life for New York City residents are outlined.