“Policing operates off of two mechansims,” said Adams, a former NYPD officer and the most prominent Black politician in New York City. “One is the omnipresence of blue and white vehicles, and the other is the element of uncertainty, that bad guys can’t believe that policing is a predictable model.
“Not having plainclothes, in my belief, on the precinct level, where you can have good supervision … [means] you’re taking away the element of surprise. Policing cannot be predictable and right now it is predictable for those bad guys that carry guns.”
The plainclothes unit was disbanded last month, with roughly 600 officers reassigned to other team, amid criticism of the NYPD’s response to protests following the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
“Trust is critical to effective policing,” NYPD Commisioner Dermot Shea said at the time. “Trust takes a long time to earn, and it is very easy to lose. We will continue to work relentlessly to earn and keep that trust, because without community partnership, we cannot effectively do our jobs.”
“What I would like to see, and call for, is the civilian-ization of those inside assignments,” said Adams, who some observers consider a contender in the 2021 New York mayoral election. “I believe you can drop the headcount of policing, which is 90 percent of the budget, without dropping the patrol strength.
“If you take those officers out of barrier details, if you take them out of telephone switchboard operators, [out] of all of those clerical assignments, you can maintain your patrol strength,” Adams explained. “We need to really introduce technology into policing. I pushed to get telemedicine into our health and hospitals. I think you can do the same in policing, drive down overtime costs, have officers not sit in court all day, or use technology and really turn the corner on policing in this city.”