Rookie Police Officers to Get Guided Tour of Neighborhood From Residents

By Rachel Holliday Smith on June 23, 2014 8:37am 

 Crown Heights residents will join new police officers on their beats in the 71st Precinct this summer to help acclimate them to the neighborhood.
Crown Heights residents will join new police officers on their beats in the 71st Precinct this summer to help acclimate them to the neighborhood.
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Getty Images/Andrew Burton

CROWN HEIGHTS — Some of the city's newest police officers are set to get a hand in learning the 71st Precinct.

A new pilot program that pairs 78 rookie police officers with prominent south Crown Heights and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens residents will launch next month with the aim of acclimating recent Police Academy graduates with the area, according to Deputy Inspector George Fitzgibbon, the precinct's commanding officer.

“[The Community Affairs Bureau] selected eight people from within the community that will actually be partners with the police officers in the street,” he said last week at a precinct community council meeting. “They’re going to walk the streets with the cops … they’re going to help ease the officers into saying hello to people.”

The selected volunteers — including pastors, rabbis and a college professor — will spend a “significant amount of time” with the new officers, walking along major corridors, introducing them to residents and conducting “wellness check” visits on vulnerable residents, Fitzgibbon said, noting that details are still being worked out. 

Locals burst into applause when Fitzgibbon announced the program, which he said he believes is the NYPD's first in Brooklyn.

Karl Cohen, president of 71st Precinct Community Council and one of the eight people chosen for the new program, said he thinks it will do a lot of good.

“The people in the community are going to be elated to know that on every street, they will have cops, especially in the summer,” he said. “I can assure you that as a result of what [Fitzgibbon] is doing, crime is going to be less in Crown Heights.”

Cohen said he was looking forward to helping guide police in an official capacity after helping informally for years.

“I would take them in the community and introduce them to the merchants and to the people of substance — good, law-abiding people — so they could know their way around,” he said.

Locals can expect to see new officers on the streets starting the week of July 7, Fitzgibbon said.

The NYPD did not immediately respond to an inquiry about the program or similar efforts elsewhere in the city.

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