NYPD Increases Heights Presence
For those of you who do not know the city too well, or even for those who do, you may have heard some rough things about Washington Heights. As of August 2011, there has been a noticeable increase in police presence in the Heights, with cops found all over Wilf Campus.
With this rise in police presence, students wonder what sparked this increase and if the cops are here to stay.
One of these new men in blue, who needs to remain nameless because of the sensitivity of his unit, explained to The Commentator that he is a member of a specialized team called “Impact Cops.” These policemen are part of an initiative started by Mayor Bloomberg in 2003.
When Mayor Bloomberg began his terms as New York City’s mayor, he had large shoes to fill. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was known as the mayor who cleaned up New York City from much of its crime, but he left a city that was still far where it could be in terms of public safety. The threat of international terror aside, crime rates were not low enough to disregard the problem.
Among other plans to decrease the city’s crime rate, Mayor Bloomberg wanted to attack specific points of weakness. Operation Impact was a program launched in January 2003 by Mayor Bloomberg in conjunction with New York Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Kelly. This initiative was designed as an open attack on zones in the city that were considered especially high in crime relative to their surrounding zones.
In 2003, the NYPD devoted 1,500 police officers to be part of Operation Impact. The zones were drawn by district, and the police officers were deployed based on good standing and ability.
In the first year alone, the program resulted in 31,000 arrests by these new Impact Cops.
In August 2011, Washington Heights was deemed an impact zone. So if you were not careful about your ventures in the community last year, you should have been. However, after August, 50 Impact Response Officers were deployed in the Washington Heights area, between 181st and 193rd streets, from St. Nicholas to Amsterdam avenues, familiar stomping grounds for any Yeshiva student.
But this police presence does not come without some harsh criticism from our neighbors. DNAinfo.com, a local Manhattan news website, reported that there are those who believe that despite the program’s success in other districts, Operation Impact’s presence in Washington Heights is misplaced and maybe even useless. The community members that feel this way point to past occasions when police show up for temporary periods of time, only to leave months later with no lasting “impact.” A more permanent deterrent of crime may be necessary to truly change the nature of the Washington Heights area.
These Impact Cops are also in contact with the Yeshiva University campus security team. Don Sommers, Director of YU Security, explained to The Commentator that YU Security is in constant contact with the local precincts in order to share information to make sure all the students are safe. “It’s a two-way street,” said Sommers. YU Security shares security footage with the cops, while the cops update the security personnel about the status of the different regions of YU schools.
Our campus has been blessed with safety over the last few years, so for us, the knowledge that we are safer now than before can be comforting despite crime around us.