NEW YORK CITY — The NYPD is offering a $4 million, 5-year contract to a PR group to boost its profile in the minority community and strengthen neighborhood policing, according to a request for proposals.
The push comes as Commissioner James O’Neill calls for more diversity among the NYPD’s recruits to better reflect the city’s demographics.
According to the RFP, posted earlier this month, the community outreach PR campaign will find new ways to improve day-to-day encounters between police and residents by "acknowledging past and present injustice," among other tactics.
With record-low crime numbers, the NYPD can now focus on bridging the divide in communities who have suffered under previous police work, according to the document.
“In its endeavor to strengthen community policing and trust among law enforcement and the communities they serve, the NYPD is requesting proposals for ways to improve police-citizen encounters and encourage the public’s trust, support, and collaboration through acknowledging past and present injustice, supplanting a culture and practice of policing that reflects the values of protection and promoting dignity of all the people we serve,” the RFP says.
The program will have a “special emphasis and desired impact within communities of color,” with analysis of city neighborhoods and their relationships with police.
“Routine positive engagement between the police and the public is the primary goal of this plan,” the RFP states.
Work will be done throughout a five year contract, with up to $800,000 paid out annually. It's not clear if the agency will report to the NYPD's Deputy Commissioner of Public Information, the department's existing press and public information office.
The NYPD did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.
The RFP continues that an ideal proposal will discuss ways to engage residents with the NYPD’s new patrol model that “accurately penetrates and settles in the public consciousness."
Expectations include analyzing levels of trust throughout various New York City neighborhoods, and then targeting communities with the lowest amount of trust. There will also be paid media ads, editorials in newspapers and magazines, social media posts and public events, the document says.
There will also be the opportunity to access to the NYPD’s existing media, including its website — which is being overhauled, the RFP says — and social media accounts.
At Wednesday’s Police Academy graduation at Madison Square Garden, O’Neill told the new recruits to be friendly while out on patrol — telling them that the approach is key to the department's Neighborhood Policing initiatives.
In order to have communities trust officers, they have to work towards “respecting the people that you work with and respecting the people that you're sworn to protect and serve," he said.
The goal is for better community and police relations, and a more diverse force.
As part of their push to encourage more diverse police officers, O'Neill announced the NYPD was dropping a ban on turbans and restrictions on beards for officers.
"We're making this change to make sure that we allow everybody in New York City that wants to apply and have the opportunity to work for the greatest police department in the nation," he said.