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Transcript: Mayor Adams Office Of Public Safety Holds Briefing On Public Safety In New York City

August 18, 2023

Moderator: Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for joining us for today's Public Safety briefing led by New York City Office of Public Safety Chief of Operations, Justin Meyers. Following our last speaker, we will take a few questions from the media, followed by some questions that have been submitted by the public ahead of today's briefing. I would now like to turn it over to Chief Meyers.

Justin Meyers, Chief of Operations, Office of Public Safety: Good afternoon and welcome. Of course, this is our weekly Public Safety briefing that we hold every week. It gives New Yorkers an opportunity to hear from leaders from the Public Safety space here in the city of New York about the hard work that's going on behind the scenes to protect the city each and every day, but also gives New Yorkers an opportunity to learn a little bit about their city and ask some questions of the folks who are leading these efforts. Today, we've got some great folks from the public safety portfolio, and a newcomer to the public safety briefing who very much their agency has to do with public safety, but not necessarily a traditional law enforcement agency.

We have today our sheriff, Anthony Miranda, a fan favorite of the public safety briefings. Anthony comes very often to share all the hard work that the New York City Sheriff's Office is doing. He's going to be here talking about his office's recent enforcement efforts to crack down on the illegal sale of baked goods containing cannabis here in the City of New York. We also have commissioner of the Administration for Children's Services, Jess Dannhauser, who's going to give us an overview of the critical work ACS does to protect children here in the city of New York, and then provide some important safety tips for anyone who has or cares for children.

And last but certainly not least, we have our NYPD chief of Information and Technology, Ruben Beltran. Chief Beltran's going to be here to give us an update on some of the innovative technology being implemented by the department to make New York City even safer, and also share a bit about how New York City and the NYPD implements technology, reviews technology, and how it works. Chief Beltran will also give us a little bit of an overview of ITB, the bureau that he oversees and commands.

Before we get started, I thought it would be fun today to just share just a really quick piece of information that New Yorkers see every week during this public safety briefing, but don't necessarily, may not know about it. Right behind us, we're in what's called the Blue Room here in City Hall. City Hall is a beautiful, beautiful building if you've ever walked by it, but it's also home to some incredible American historical artifacts. It's really an honor for those of us who get to come here from time to time or work here to get to see some of these things. I just wanted to share it with New Yorkers, because it's in the background of these Public Safety briefings and it actually is something of rather significance.

Right behind me is a painting, a portrait of Alexander Hamilton, one of the Founding Fathers, of course, of the United States. And it's painted by John Trumbull, who is a very, very famous painter. It was known at that time that if you were a Founding Father, John Trumbull did your painting. You had made it at that point. And this painting is unique, because Alexander Hamilton was known for not really wanting his painting done, so it happened very infrequently and there's not a lot of original Hamilton paintings. And this painting, this specific one right here is actually the painting that was used to frame the $10 bill. That face on your $10 bill that you've seen a thousand times literally comes from this painting that lives right here in City Hall, in the City of New York. So, just a fun little fact that I thought we'd share with New Yorkers today before we get started with the briefing.

So, now onto our regularly scheduled briefing. We're here. We do these briefings, as I said, to let the public hear directly from leaders throughout the city government on the public safety work that we're doing. And if you're watching from home, our hope is that you learn something here today or that you hear something that you may think is useful to a friend, a neighbor, a loved one that could help them be safe. Safety is really about more knowledge, more information. Those little tiny tidbits that help you have a safe and productive day, day in and day out are the things that ultimately lead up to public safety. So, our hope is that you'll hear some things that help keep you safe and that you'll share that information with your friends and family.

Before we chat with our team members here today, I'd also like to take a moment to recognize and thank the organizers, performers, and police officers, and of course, the New Yorkers that took part in this past weekend's free Hip Hop 50 concerts that were announced earlier this month by Mayor Eric Adams and took place over the weekend across the city. I think it's important to just take a moment and recognize that this past weekend, we had tens of thousands of people across all five boroughs attending concerts together. Really, I think, underscoring the fact that New York City is back. We went through a lot during Covid, but we have completely come back.

We're out in the streets, New Yorkers loving each other, celebrating hip-hop's 50th anniversary, going to concerts. And what was remarkably amazing about it is as we had these massive events all over the city, not a single incident occurred; no violence, no arrests, no massive issues whatsoever. So, I think it really underscores the progress that we've made coming out of Covid, that we as a city are able to come together, have these celebrations, gather in masses, and do so without any incident. So, just want to give a shout-out to the organizers, the performers, the police officers who went out and protected those events over the weekend, and of course, the New Yorkers who came out and enjoyed themselves and did so in a responsible fashion.

The next thing that I want to just quickly share before we get to our guests is that the NYPD recently released crime statistics through the first half of 2023, which showed that crime is down overall as compared to 2022. We've seen reductions in five of the seven index crime categories, including murder, which is down 7.9 percent, rape, that is down 9.9 percent, robberies are down 4.8 percent, burglaries are down 9.9 percent, and grand larcenies are down 1.3 percent. We have seen, as we've talked about previously at these briefings, a slight increase in felony assaults, 3.4 percent increase. And we have also continued to see an increase, 18 percent in grand larceny autos, which is driven specifically by a number of specific make and model vehicles that have some programming issues that make them fairly easy to steal.

These are Kias and Hyundais models from 2011 to 2021, so if you own a Kia or a Hyundai 2011 to 2021, your car may be vulnerable to theft. The NYPD and Mayor Eric Adams have set out to do a broad scale, multi-pronged approach to dealing with the rise in grand larcenies. We've talked about it before on the show. We're doing a lot of different work through the NYPD, through other outreach to car manufacturers, to community folks, and to the owners of these vehicles to notify them that you may be at risk. There are some really simple things that you can do to significantly lower your risk of having your vehicle stolen. 

You can use Bluetooth or GPS tracking device that you can put in. You can also bring your car to a manufacturer, to a dealership for a free software upgrade that will help eliminate that. Or you can get yourself a good, old-fashioned wheel lock, which will certainly assist in doing that, preventing your car from being stolen.

As you can see, Mayor Eric Adams and his Public Safety teams have been making great progress through the beginning of the year. But of course, we know that during summer months, not just in this city, but across this country, we sometimes see an uptick in crime. In May, at the advent of the summer season, the NYPD's Crime Control Strategies Bureau analyzed crime from across the city and identified 65 specific areas where we see crime increasing. We use data to try to drive down crime, and use specific targeted police actions in areas where we see that increase in crime to try to prevent it from ever happening, and then of course, respond timely if it does. In these 65 locations between the 5:30 p.m. and 4 a.m. each night, additional officers have been deployed to those areas to support those neighborhoods and make sure they are safe.

We're proud to report that those efforts thus far this summer have been incredibly successful. Since the summer violence reductions plan's inception in May, major crime in those areas are down 6.2 percent. As I said, normally you see an increase in those areas in the summer months, but we've actually seen a reduction in major crimes by 6.2 percent in those areas. Shooting incidents are down 27.5 percent in those areas, and shooting victims are down 35.1 percent year-over-year in those zones that we've been working on. So I want to thank and commend the NYPD for their great work and for continuing to deploy resources in a strategic and effective way to combat crime in our most vulnerable communities. And later on, we're going to hear from Chief Beltran on some interesting ways that the NYPD's been leveraging data to be able to make those data-driven decision-making that's led to some of those very impressive numbers.

Now, we have our first member of the Public Safety team, Sheriff Anthony Miranda here. The Sheriff's Office has been working hand-in-hand with the NYPD, the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection, and other city agencies over the past year and a half since recreational adult use cannabis was legalized in New York state, to crack down on unlicensed and illegal cannabis sales here in the city of New York. We know this is an issue for New Yorkers. We've seen this explosion of unlicensed cannabis retail resellers in neighborhoods all across the city. 311 complaints have gone through the roof on this particular issue, and Sheriff Miranda and his team are really leading the way to try to enforce the illegal sale of cannabis.

Cannabis is legal. It's legal to purchase. It's legal to utilize cannabis in the city and the state of New York now, but there are dangers to having unregulated sales. Just the same way as you're not allowed to cook moonshine in your bathtub and sell it on the street, you're also not allowed to start a restaurant without having the right requirements and licenses in place. You have to have the right licenses in place to sell cannabis as well. And when you don't, what ends up happening is you can attract crime to a particular community.

When people talk about marijuana or when law enforcement talks about marijuana driving crime or driving violence, it's not the use of cannabis that drives the crime. It's the fact that the illegal sale generates a tremendous amount of cash. And anytime you have an illegal business sitting on a lot of cash, that's going to attract wrongdoers who may want to use violence to try to take that cash away from you. And so the sheriff's been doing an incredible job to do enforcement. He recently did a special targeted enforcement on shops that are selling illegal baked goods that have cannabis in them. The sheriff's here today to talk to us a little bit about the work that they're doing. Thanks so much, sheriff.

Sheriff Anthony Miranda: Thank you for having us, and it's always a pleasure to be here. I want to first start by clearly stating that the Sheriff's Office has a number of responsibilities. Smoke shop enforcement is just one of those responsibilities. We have a compliance task force, and it's made up of the cooperation of several different agencies. I want to start by giving some of the general numbers, and then I'll talk about the enforcement about the edibles. So far in the month of July 2023, our actions have resulted in civil penalties totaling close to $4.5 million in seizure of products and seizure of products of value, over $2 million in products that were seized. And year-to-date, the city actions have resulted in $22 million in civil penalties against the locations, and products valued at over $12 million have been seized year-to-date from the efforts of the task force and the other agencies.

Most recently, we had the opportunity to join forces with the Department of Health, who went out to do inspections on locations that were baking with cannabis and other products. And when we went out with them, they clearly had more significant authority about closing down some of the locations. But we went in with them and they were able to enforce the imposing civil penalties of over $34,000 at one location, and they ended up closing down those two locations who were selling baked goods. The Department of Health had a significant amount of inspection authority to go into these locations. We accompanied them about doing additional enforcement, looking for additional products that may have been sold in these locations as well. We were able to secure locations that did result in two arrests at two different locations, and the seizure of all the baked goods.

People often ask what we do with the baked goods. All of those products get destroyed, and they were disposed of. But the efforts are ongoing and the partnership will continue going forward. Community complaints are extremely important. We want to make sure that you understand that we're hearing the complaints and we're actively investigating those complaints. And we not only do the enforcement on the street level, but we also do follow-up investigations, tracking the financials of a particular business, and finding out where the money's going and who's funding these locations. So what you see on the street is our street level enforcement, but there are different levels of investigations that are ongoing through the Sheriff's Office with the joint partnerships, with the different agencies we work with. But the commissioner from the Department of Health has been tremendous in their efforts to be able to identify these locations with information they receive from the community, and they partner with us to go out and do the inspections of these locations and to make sure that we remove these products from the street.

Again, these are unregulated products. There's no certainty as to how much product is contained inside these things, so there's certain health risks to the community. The same thing happens with these illegal smoke shops. These are a health risk to our community because they're unregulated and we don't know what's being mixed in them or how much product is being sold in them. So we don't know what the impact will be when people are using the product.

Again, the effort here is to make sure that the community who wants to participate legally in this market has the right opportunity, the right places to go to and that they are protected. And at the same time, we want to make sure we're protecting the health and safety of the other communities and the young adults that they're targeting for selling these products as well.

Meyers: That's right. Thank you, sheriff. Appreciate it. Now, I think the bottom line here is that marijuana is legal, and there are legal ways to acquire it here in the city and across the state of New York. All you have to do is do a quick Google search for licensed cannabis shop and New York City, and you're going to be able to find a place to go there and get whatever it is that you're looking for.

But if you're underaged or you're in a community where you have unlicensed marijuana shops, we really encourage folks not to utilize them because that is what is causing issues, both from a public safety standpoint and a quality of life standpoint in a lot of our communities. And there's a legal way to participate, as the sheriff said in that market. If you'd like to, please do so. But please don't use the illegal marketplace.

So next up, I'm joined by Commissioner Jess Danhauser of the Administration for Children's Services or ACS. We've yet to have ACS on, it's not a traditional public safety agency. But of course they're in charge of the safety of children here in the city of New York, so that plays a critically important role in overall public safety in the city. And the commission's here to tell us about the work his agency does to protect the safety of our most vulnerable New Yorkers, our children.

He'll also share with us some of the top tips to keep children safe. This information is obviously critically important if you are a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, babysitter or any kind of caregiver for a child. But even if you aren't, as I stated earlier, please share the tips Commissioner Danhauser is going to give us with someone in your life who does interact with kids and may benefit from this information.

A little bit of background, ACS is tasked with helping to create a healthy environment for children throughout the five boroughs with a particular focus on child welfare, juvenile justice and early care and education services. That's a very big, very important job. The safety and wellbeing of our city depends on children being able to reach their full potential regardless of the challenges they may face. And without further ado, I'd like to turn it over to Commissioner Danhauser to let us know what ACS is doing and what we can all do to provide a brighter future for our city's youngest residents.

Commissioner Jess Dannhauser. Administration for Children’s Services: Thank you, Chief Myers, it's a pleasure to be here to talk about the work of ACS and the unsung heroes, our child protective specialists. All of our folks who do work in our juvenile justice system, our nonprofit provider partners, and so many staff at ACS that we are grateful. Out every single day, day and night, making sure that we are protecting children and supporting families.

I want to start with the tips for families. The headlines are often dominated by sensational stories about children that have been hurt. But most child injuries are actually accidental. They happen with well-meaning parents who just maybe not know the best way to protect their children. It's hot this week, it is a time where we open windows. So I want to talk to you a little bit about window guards. It is essential that families have window guards. If you are struggling to have window guards, call 311. They can help you with your landlord to make sure that you have what you need. Too often, we've seen children be hurt by climbing out into windows and god forbid, falling. What's really key is that if a child is 10 years or younger, there needs to be a window guard.

An air conditioner that is appropriately installed is an appropriate alternative to a window guard. But you have to make sure that there's a very, very narrow entrance between the air conditioning so that young people cannot get out of it and that it is appropriately installed. 311 can be a resource for this. You can also go to our website and to the Department of Health's website to get more information to make sure those window guards are appropriately installed.

We also see from time to time children who are lost because of unsafe sleep conditions. There are three really key tips for parents. Children should always sleep alone. That's the A. Children should always sleep on their backs, which is the B. And they should always sleep in a crib, which is a C. We know as a parent, my child is now a teenager. But when she was little, the stress of getting them to sleep, it is difficult to really sometimes abide by these principles, but they save lives.

To make sure that your child is not sleeping with clutter. Sometimes, especially as the winter months approach, we want to put more and more blankets on our children. We're worried about their temperature. It's really, really important that we don't do that, and we make sure that they are sleeping in a clutter-free environment so that we can protect them. We've done a lot to get out pack and plays to families, and different equipment. ACS has sleep sacks that are really appropriate for those winter months. So we really want to share with families that the A, B and C of safe sleep are key. Not only is ACS endeavoring to protect our littlest ones and to support families, parents are their children's most important protectors, and so our job is really to support families in doing that.

We're also investing in our young people. We have launched a program over the last few years. The mayor has invested over $30 million in a program called Fair Futures. This is a program that provides coaches to young people in foster care until they're 26 years old. I'm really pleased and proud to share with you that we just had an implementation study done by Chapin Hall that found the implementation to be remarkable. We've reached over 4,000 young people in foster care, including young people who have aged out and come back for supportive services. This includes education, college, all of the things that they need to support a career housing supports.

We've expanded this to our juvenile justice continuum, and ACS has a robust juvenile justice continuum of preventative services, mostly called our Family Assessment Program or FAP. If families are struggling with a young adult in their home, they can reach out to our FAP offices. They're in each borough, they're available on our website. We just added Fair Futures to that continuum because we heard from parents. We really appreciate the services that FAP provides, but we want something that our young people are going to gravitate towards. And these coaches are credible messengers, they are really allies to young people, can help them navigate towards success. So I'm pleased to answer any questions, and just wanted to provide those key tips.

Meyers: Thank you so much, commissioner, it was really great to have you here. I think that was some really important information, particularly as you said in the summer months with windows being open. Let me ask you just a quick question. So if I'm somebody watching the public safety briefing today and I know an expecting mother or have a friend who is a new parent, I said, "Hey, I just saw there's this great commissioner at Child Services in the City of New York, was just talking about all these services that you have. You're about to have your baby, you just had your baby." What's the next step? What should folks do? Is there a website? Is there somewhere they can go to understand the resources that are available out there for new parents?

Commissioner Dannhauser: Absolutely. So if you go to the ACS website, which is, if you go there, you can find tips on how to protect your child. We also have a robust continuum of preventive services. So if families need a little extra help, maybe they need homemaking in their home, maybe they need support navigating the housing system. They can reach out for ACS prevention services at (212) 676-7667. These are free, voluntary, regardless of immigration status, that are accessible through nonprofits embedded in all communities throughout the city. And if you're just curious and want to know a little bit more about what we provide, that number can also provide that information if you're not sure what you might need.

Meyers: Excellent, give us that number one more time.

Commissioner Dannhauser: (212) 676-7667.

Meyers: Thank you, commissioner. Thank you so much for being here today, it was really a pleasure to have you come and share all the important work you and your team are doing over in ACS. So last but not least, I'm joined here today by NYPD Chief of Information and Technology Chief Ruben Beltran. Chief Beltran has been a member of the NYPD for 37 and a half years. I believe over 20 years of service as an executive with the NYPD, and this is actually his second stint commanding the IT Bureau in the NYPD, which is of course in charge of all technology and tech related projects that the NYPD undergoes.

The chief has a storied track record of really doing some incredibly important and progressive things in the NYPD in terms of technology. He stood up a host of operations right after 9/11 that really laid a foundation and groundwork for the NYPD to be able to move forward technologically post-9/11. So it's really great to have Chief Beltran with us. I do believe it's your first time at the Public Safety Briefing, which excited to have you here.

The responsible implementation of technology is a top priority for Mayor Adams and all the members of his administration. It's key to keeping our community safe and preventing crime. And the key word here is responsible. We're not looking to adopt technology just for the sake of technology. We're looking to find technological solutions that are going to help shape a 21st century model for how public safety operates in this city, both in terms of the needs for law enforcement and safety, but also in terms of what our communities and what the city's expectation is of their public safety and law enforcement agencies in 2023.

So since Mayor Adams took office last January, the Office of Public Safety and the NYPD have been conducting a very careful analysis of technology that has had the potential to make our communities even safer. And testing some of that tech out in small scales, pilot programs. So right now, we're testing... And that's a big part of responsible testing of technology, is you have to do your due diligence first. Go out to the industry, understand what technology's available, and then be able to see, are the claims on what that technology does? Are they real or are they not?

And so we have to be able to have a test bed, often in a controlled environment, where we're able to test out this technology in oftentimes short pilots that end up giving us research that we look at for months and months, or even years sometimes to determine whether or not that technology is safe and it's responsible for us to deploy that technology out into the city.

So we'll continue to do our due diligence in analyzing any new technology. And most importantly, we're going to be transparent throughout that process so that folks at home know what new tools are being utilized, how they're being used and how effective they are at increasing safety. I think Mayor Adams has made it very clear that when it comes to technology, he's interested in being transparent and being very open with the public. We talked about bringing in and have brought in a pilot program to look at utilizing robots in some of our subway stations, which is a pilot that is ongoing, we're working on for implementation.

But before doing that, the mayor held a press conference in Times Square, brought the companies that had these robots out. Put them on display in front of the media, hundreds of members of the public were there. And then we actually set up a small office in Times Square, and invited New Yorkers for many days to come in and be able to ask questions about the technology, learn about what the policies and procedures, and how the NYPD and other agencies would be utilizing that technology. So that's a really, really important aspect of rolling out technologies. Having that public, that two-way conversation with the public about what we're doing, what their ideas or concerns might be and building that into the research that goes into these pilot programs.

So as part of that commitment to transparency and community input, Chief Beltran is here today to give us an update on the process, and highlight some of the technology that the NYPD is using to better protect our city. So Chief, if you could, please. As I think it's your first time as I said, share a little bit about ITB. How it works, give us an overview of what you and your team work on, and then talk to us a little bit about some of the tech you're utilizing to help protect New Yorkers.

Chief Ruben Beltran, Information Technology, Police Department: It's my honor to do so. Chief Meyers, thank you for inviting me here. I am a longtime viewer of this broadcast, and the fact that I'm here today shows not only the importance of technology to the mayor and to your office. We spent a lot of time together during the week also reviewing and talking about technology, but it also demonstrates how important technology is to the city. I'm the first chief of Information Technology, again, showing the importance to the mayor in terms of how important technology is for the city. And it wasn't until the last 10 years that we actually became a bureau. And the NYPD, the way we're structured are the most important, most strategic organizations that support the needs of the city are led by Bureau Chiefs, so that by itself shows the importance of technology to the New York City Police Department. My experience with the New York City Police Department, I have 37 years of service in the department. Almost half of that is in information technology, and that experience and technology, really, you understand that any successes that we have really are, we provide the leadership, but it's really a team of people that get it done.

What I like most about where we're at today is that this team has expanded from being a city localized NYPD team. Maybe 10 years ago I would be sitting here thinking, trying to solve problems by myself or by ourselves with an NYPD team and now that thinking is a lot broader. It's a lot broader, and how do we address current problems for the city? Working together, agency to agency, and also led by the mayor and the mayor's interest in technology definitely spurs it, it inspires me and inspires the people that work for me, that the work that we do every day is important. And the people that work for me are really the story of why I'm here. It's 2,200 people that work for me in the New York City Police Department. We're organized into divisions. Most of my employees are civilians.

I only have a hundred plus uniformed officers and many of them, most of my employees actually work in our communications division. And the communications division is responsible for receiving your 911 calls, dispatching radio transmissions to police officers. They're the first person that you contact when you call 911, and they're the first people to call the police and speak to the police when the police officers need help, so that's a big part of the operation. And I have a Life Safety Systems division made up of technicians, radio repair mechanics, and also experts in mobile command post vehicles that help also work with Office of Technology and Innovation with the city to support our emergency communications in the 911 Center. 

We don't own all that technology there. We own the technology that helps us dispatch to our police officers, but that communications technology where people call 911, we work hand in hand with OTI, Office of Technology Innovation, to do that.

We have our traditional IT department that maintains and supports hundreds of applications. We are our own phone company and really our own TV broadcaster because we own all our data network. We lease the fiber and we manage everything that it touches. Those channels that we broadcast, as is well known, that we discussed, have to do with access to over 60,000 video cameras that we have access to and training videos that we share with police officers, and that's just within our IT infrastructure. Also, we have our Strategic Technology division. That's where a lot of our research goes into, and that's where we support what we call our most strategic platforms in the Police Department, our most strategic technologies that help us fight crime, reduce crime, keep police officers safe, keep our community safe and help us fight counter-terrorism, and that's where we do a lot of our work.

We also have our Information Security group that works hand in hand with Cyber Command and the city to make sure that we keep the information within NYPD secure and make sure we keep our systems operational and available so we can continue to respond. So in terms of our strategic technology work and what we do there, our most important and most, I guess, prolific system that we use to maintain safety and protect the assets of New York City residents and businesses is our domain awareness system. And as part of our domain awareness system, I like to call that the flagship application for the Police Department because it ties everything together. It ties every device, every police officer with the mobile device, every police car that has a video camera or license plate reader. Every fixed license plate reader that we have in the street are chemical, biological, radiological sensors that we have out there in the field. Every 911 caller, every individual, every citizen that's watching now, they're a source for us, and that information comes to the Domain Awareness System via 911, and we mentioned 311 a few times over here today.

That information gets accepted and gets transmitted to our domain awareness system and gets correlated with other incidents that are occurring concurrently to help the police officers respond and manage those incidents. And that's made up a lot of integrated and important technologies, but like anything else, it's been around for over 13 years and we're always looking for new ways to improve the technologies that are integrated in there, and that's how we work with the mayor's office and work with our user groups about trying to identify, where are our pain points? Where are we at risk of falling behind or where are there new opportunities for us to address crime or quality of life concerns?

So there's two recent enhancements to the Domain Awareness System that I'd like to talk about as part of this briefing today, and one of them has to do with 311 because 311, I think, when they started the 311 system, it was to reduce the number of calls that were going to 911 that were non-emergency and we're taking up time of call takers and dispatchers, but I think they received even more calls than 911 does. Our 911 call takers take around over 12 million calls a year, if you could wrap your head around that. And I believe that just as many if not more are handled by 311 call takers and the 311 system. So what people don't know is what those 911 calls and what those 311 calls trigger when that information gets to the Police Department and gets to NYPD systems, but it triggers a workflow and it triggers data going into applications that are running on phones on police officer's hands.

And police officers have the ability to look at 911 calls and 311 calls in the 911 app and 311 app on their phone. The 311 app was a godsend for me because it was recently implemented when I was a borough commander in Queen South, and I can see every precinct that I was responsible for, I could see the 311 calls that were pending how long they were pending for, what they were for. And that provided a lot of value for me to hold my police officers accountable in terms of their responses to these 311 complaints. What becomes a little bit harder to do is to analyze these 311 complaints in real time in terms of, sometimes, a collection or number of calls and a certain proximity to each other within a certain timeframe. 

At least we found in our analysis are either precursors or indicators that more serious crime is going to occur. So recently working with our crime control strategies with our chief of department and chief of patrol's office, and working with the deputy mayor's office, we created a 311 flagging clustering application.

And that gives us the ability to understand, "Hey, what's come in recently from 311? What's coming in now? Where are those calls located?" And sometimes these calls are very close proximity to precinct boundaries, and sometimes we have three or four different precincts that actually touch an intersection and sometimes we don't get the full picture, maybe one precinct has two calls, one has three calls, one has one call. But when you put that all together, we have seven calls in the last three or four hours, and those type of calls that gives us more visibility and awareness about what's happening in that community. And we put out this clustering application just before the summer and we've been using it as part of our crime reduction strategy. And as you can see, some of the stats that you've mentioned, violence during the summer has been drastically reduced, and I think that that application has contributed greatly to doing that, and at the very least has given us an awareness that we didn't have previously about things that could be escalated so we can put resources there as quick as possible to remediate it.

The second thing that I want to talk about is our 911 app. So our 911 app, not only when people call 911 do we have the information that they're providing, which becomes part of data that's correlated in our Domain Awareness System, but in addition to that, we know about previous 911 calls at that location. We know about maybe people that are wanted at that specific location. Maybe we know that there's a history of someone there with mental illness, and that information is automatically correlated for police officers that are responding there, and they can see that in their 911 app before they even knock on the door, before they even step out of the car. So it's a great capability that we've had for many years, but we've recently enhanced that because we want to be able to have that same type of situational awareness and proactive capability, not just when responding to a 911 call.

We want to have that capability when we're on proactive patrol, when we're addressing conditions, when we're doing a park walk and talk in the particular community, we want to be able to know, "Hey, was there a shooting incident here three days ago?" Maybe I was on vacation and maybe I'm not aware of that. Or maybe somebody was arrested for a gun and we also had a shooting here at this location. Maybe there's people that have felony warrants in the vicinity where I'm working at. So we've created the capability, we call it a nearby search capability that gives us the same information that police officers get when they respond to a 911 call, but it's based on the location services of their phone and it tells them, in the particular location where they're at, where the risks are and what information is available to them about criminal incidents at that specific location. And we call that the nearby search capability. These are both new capabilities in our existing applications that we released for the summer, and we think that they're contributing to keeping police officers safer and keeping communities safer.

Meyers: No doubt that they are. And I think that the crime stats clearly reflect the hard work that your team and so many others in the NYPD have been doing to keep the city safe through these summer months. That was great chief, really appreciated. I'm sure that was very informative to a lot of folks at home. Technology, such an important part of the world that we live in, of course, and the future of public safety and really the future of how government operates in the city is going to be based on the successful, responsible implementation of specific types of technology that are going to give us a 21st century framework for how we operate here in the city.

It would be great, I'm sure there's so many other things that you could talk about. I know you're working on a ton of different things. I know you and your team and the NYPD as a whole are committed to the transparency aspect of technology and having that conversation with the public as we roll this stuff out, so maybe we could have you come back again and delve into a little bit more details on some of the other stuff you're working on.

Chief Beltran: I'd love to be back. I look forward…

Meyers: Excellent. Thank you, chief. Appreciate it. And with that, I think it's time that we'll take some questions from the public and then the members of the media that are here. Thank you. We'll now open it up to any questions we have that are on topic from the media.

Question: Thank you. On the responsible use of technology, the department as you know, is required to disclose impact and use policies under the POST Act. There's been some criticism that they haven't been as detailed as they could be. The OIG found in a report last year that disclosing broad categories of technologies that are being used rather than specific new tools or models of technology is contrary to the intent of the POST Act. I'm curious if the department plans to be more detailed in the future in its disclosure of impact and use policies for things like new GPS tools or situational awareness cameras, and if not, why not?

Chief Beltran: So I think you saw the level of detail that I came into here, going back from a 911 call, how we correlate the data, how we send that information to police officers. I think the problem that we come into here is that technology is a very broad area and domain, and technologies currently that support usually either police operations or just regular technology solutions usually include an integration of different type of capabilities and products. They license solutions providers, license capabilities from one another on a regular basis. I think I'd see both parts of the position. Number one, I like the fact that we're in compliance with the law, so we like to be in compliance of whatever laws are provided by the oversights. I disagree somewhat that providing more granular level of description of those technologies would really benefit the intent of that law because we could continue to go drill down and drill down, and the responsibility to classify, to update technology descriptions that are very similar would be arduous, I think, for the police department. It's difficult as it is right now, and I'm not complaining because I know that people like lawyers but there's nothing that I can do from a technology perspective that doesn't involve having a lawyer in the room.

I'm more concerned about public safety and keeping people safe and being true to the spirit of the law. We do want to have that transparency, but we also don't want to create laws that put us at a disadvantage to criminals that use technology freely to victimize people. We're always playing catch up. We know that, but we don't want to be so far behind that the public, who has an expectation and understands that we have technology, is pondering why aren't the police doing more with the technology that exists out there that every consumer has access to. We should be able to use that to keep people safe.

Meyers: I was just going to add, Chief Beltran and I were on a panel yesterday at a technology conference talking about this issue specifically. I think it's important to note, when you mentioned the DOI investigation, or the DOI report, the DOI report states in the very first line of the paragraph of the press release that they sent out that the NYPD is compliant with the law. That's the point here is that the NYPD does follow the law, does do the necessary reporting. I think the NYPD leadership and the Mayor have made it clear that they're very open to continuing the discussion and being open to changing how we do things and being open to the conversation about it. Being compliant with the law is the most important part, and the NYPD is compliant with the law. Now the second part is looking at are there responsible and effective additional things that we can do, and we're absolutely engaged in those conversations.

Question: All right. You know what I'm going to talk about.

Chief Beltran: We met before.

Question: We spent the past five years, spent almost $1 billion on new radios, repeaters, communication system, all great. It's great for police. It's necessary. You make a point that it's been a safety issue and it certainly is. Certainly you can't have police radios being interfered with. Certainly the P25s have done that and going digital has done that. In fact, Baofengs can't interfere anymore. So now you have a radio system that you can use, not encrypted, but you've gone encrypted in six precincts. You've shut the media out, you've shut the public out. My question to you, after all this time, five years, what is your plan to include the media and to make sure that there is transparency in the information that the public requires?

Moderator: I think we answered this question before in statements.

Question: I don't think the question has been answered at all.

Moderator: We're going to answer by DCPI…

Question: I think that Beltran could speak for himself.

Moderator: [Inaudible].

Question: He's a small man. He's been there 37 years. I've been here 40.

Moderator: Thank you very much. Earlier this week, the administration reached out to New Yorkers asking them to submit questions for the officials that have joined us here today. We will now get to as many of those as we can with a few minutes that we have left. First question comes from Audra in Queens for the sheriff who asks, I see so much of the illegal merchandise marketed in these illegal cannabis shops aimed towards children and teenagers. Is your office seeing an increase in that as well?

Sheriff Miranda: We are seeing the same things. We are receiving your complaints. These are all clear violations of the rules and regulations that have been established by the State Office of Cannabis Management and the people engaged in this conduct are clearly in violation of the law. We are seeing it and we are also seizing these products when we do our inspections. If it's against the law we're taking, we're confiscating that from each of our inspections.

Question: Thank you. Our next question comes from Chuck in Manhattan for ACS, who asks, how is your office adapting to work with new asylum seekers in New York City?

Commissioner Dannhauser: Thank you for that question. We have our preventive service providers, our nonprofit providers have deployed to support families at HERRCs, the city, the mayor has made an historic investment of $16 million in childcare supports for families in undocumented statuses. It's called Promise NYC. And all of our services across the board are free regardless of documentation status. Our preventive services, many of our borough offices, our child protective offices and our nonprofit partners are also out there right now doing back to school fairs, making sure that families have everything they need to prepare their children for school, which is coming up on us fast and furious.

Question: Thank you. Next question comes from Sandra in Manhattan for Chief Beltran who asks, how can you use technology to do something about the motorcycles, mopeds, and electronic bikes that are on pedestrian walkways or go through red lights?

Chief Beltran: Okay. That's a big struggle. Like I said before, I was a commander of Queens South. At that time I was living in Queen South and Atlantic Avenue was a very congested venue that was used on the regular by some of these motorcycles and these ride outs as we call them. I think in general, I think there's technology out there that's looking at speeding, looking at red lights if people are properly registered and there's enforcement on that end, on the civil end. Of course, from an investigative perspective, we have access to those cameras when necessary. I talked about 311 before, that's a common 311 complaint. We used 311, the analysis of 311 incidents during the summertime of those type of calls and 911 calls to be able to understand where we need to deploy. When these ride outs happen, what are the routes that they use? What are the staging areas they use and what are the meetup locations along the route where they gas up?

Part of this is doing an analysis of 311 calls and complaints. I think the clustering capability that we created for 311 has some of those keywords referenced in there. That's part of our analysis for escalating complaints that we've been using, that we've been using during the summer. There's also an intelligence component to this. A lot of our ride outs, I was dependent on knowing ahead of time that there were planned ride outs by bigger groups of motorcycle riders and what their intent was. We do have some open source social analytic, social media analytic tools that we use and that we use in Intel Intelligence Division to be able to know is there something we should be concerned about that's deployed resources. We use a combination of technology in terms of across the city and within the police department and intelligence to help manage those incidents.

Question: Thank you, chief. Mariana in the Bronx has a question for the Sheriff's Office asking what is the process to, or can you explain a little more about the process to prevent illegal cannabis shops from reopening once you've taken an enforcement action?

Sheriff Miranda: So the agency with the greatest authority of our closing out the shops is the State Office of Cannabis Management. Even after we do inspections and issue civil violations, they do have to have their day in court, their due process. Then once they go to those hearings, the judge that determines what are the penalties and what the closing conditions would be in those circumstances. There are new laws being proposed to changes to fix those gaps in enforcement. We're looking forward to those changes as well. And I think it's going to be a collaborative effort through all the agencies. That's one of the mandates of the mayor is that all the agencies, it's a problem for the city. It means it's a problem for all the agencies. We have to work collaboratively using all of our resources and our authority to make sure that we have the proper enforcement and that the people do have their due day in court.

Question: Thank you. Our final question comes from Luisa in the Bronx for ACS, I believe, this is referencing asylum seekers when she asks what new measures will be taken in the upcoming school year to help serve our new student population to ensure they are successful.

Commissioner Dannhauser: We know our partners at the New York City Public Schools have been doing an extraordinary job preparing and enrolling New Yorkers in school. We are working to supplement those efforts to make sure all of families that we're working with have all of the supplies that they need to be ready for youth in foster care. We've done through the Fair Futures program, a tremendous job in helping young people choose schools, middle school choice, high school choice to make sure that they're getting their best fit school as well. We're really trying to really support the Department of Education and their extraordinary efforts.

Moderator: Thank you very much, commissioner. On behalf of the Adams Administration, I would like to thank everyone for tuning into today's briefing. We look forward to seeing you all at our next one. Have a great day.

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