Press Release

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NYCHA Unveils its Safety and Security Task Force Report

Highlights Include Access Control at Mott Haven, New Guidelines for NYPD Patrols

The Safety and Security Task Force, a partnership among the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), public housing’s Citywide Council of Presidents (CCOP) and the New York City Police Department (NYPD) released its first detailed report on the work it has accomplished to make public housing in New York City safer and more secure for residents. The Safety and Security Task Force convened for the first time in December 2009, brought about by collaboration between NYCHA and the CCOP. Findings from the report were shared today with the City Council’s Housing and Public Safety Committees, and continue to inform NYCHA’s security strategy to accomplish four goals: improve public housing’s physical security infrastructure; deter crime; discourage and redress “evidence of disorder,” such as broken doors and other vandalism that can lead to more serious crime; and assist residents in complying with all NYCHA guidelines. The Safety and Security Task Force fits with NYCHA’s current efforts to produce a new Plan to Preserve Public Housing.  Scheduled to be finalized in the summer of 2011, the Plan to Preserve Public Housing includes increasing safety and security in as one of the mandates that will steer the Authority’s course of action for the next five years.

“Nothing is more important than the safety of NYCHA’s families,” said John B. Rhea, NYCHA Chairman in his testimony. “Security is a cornerstone of a neighborhood’s health and stability; and providing for the safety of those under its care must be the first priority of any governing body, agency or council.  As NYCHA develops a long-term vision for the preservation of public housing, improving the quality of life for our residents by providing safeguards for their well-being and implementing strategies that will reduce both the likelihood and incidence of crime are critically important.”

“The Safety and Security Task Force is a milestone in resident engagement best practices that continues to position public housing residents and NYCHA as partners in shaping the future for the residents of public housing in the city of New York,” said Reginald Bowman, President of the CCOP and a Task Force member. “The Task Force produced tremendously improved results for relations among NYCHA, NYPD and the resident leadership.”

“The New York City Police Department is pleased to express its support and appreciation for the commitment made by Chairman Rhea, President Reginald Bowman, and the entire Citywide Council of Presidents, to the work of the Safety and Security Task Force,” said Assistant Chief Edward Delatorre, Executive Officer of the NYPD Housing Bureau. “We are honored to be part of this dynamic body, which enhances the partnership that already exists between the residents of public housing, the management of the New York City Housing Authority, and the NYPD.”

Among the highlights from the report were results from the Resident Safety and Security Survey to gauge residents’ concerns, as well as gather ideas for how to improve development safety. Findings from more than 1,000 residents surveyed from a mix of developments showed that about 75 percent of public housing residents were fearful of crime in their development, with 60 percent reporting that a serious crime had occurred in their development within the past year.

In addition, the Task Force has recommended that the Authority install a “layered” access control system.  Residents will be issued electronic key tags, or “Fobs,” instead of keys to their building’s entrance.  Electronic key tags are easily modified to remove key holders from the system and to remove keys that have been lost or stolen.  The layered system will also include direct call intercoms that don’t rely on telephone company infrastructure.  The design will also allow for “rapid repair” or replacement of a failed component, reducing repair lag time and discouraging further vandalism.

“The creation of the Task Force is one of the best decisions made, and this is a venue that gives residents and resident leaders alike the opportunity to have our voices heard and our concerns addressed,” said Charlene Nimmons, Wyckoff Gardens Resident Association President and a member of the Task Force. “I believe this committee can help foster a much needed partnership between those who manage and those who reside in NYCHA.”

Another outcome of the Task Force working together is recommending that the NYPD, in cooperation with resident leaders, develop new patrol guidelines for public housing officers based on the principle that police officers are “service providers.”  To date, nearly 3,000 police officers have received new guideline training and nearly all officers assigned to the Housing Bureau and the Precinct Housing Teams have received training.  Throughout 2011, the remainder of the Department is scheduled to be trained, and officers who have already received training will receive a refresher course.  The Department has committed to create a new training video for recruits that will focus on mutual respect and courtesy. And the NYPD will solicit feedback at community meetings and other forums, and the Authority will continue to engage our residents for feedback on the progress of these and other efforts.

The NYCHA Safety and Security Task Force (Task Force) was formed in December 2009 and includes NYCHA’s Citywide Council of Presidents (CCOP), three NYCHA residents; and members of the NYPD.  Since that time, the Task Force has collaborated with the Office of the Mayor; the Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor for New York City; the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development; the New York County District Attorney’s Community Affairs Unit; the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and many others. The Task Force was divided into five committees: Resident Engagement; NYCHA Rules and Regulations; Security Measures; NYPD’s Policies and Relationship with Residents; and Communications.

The Task Force thanked Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly for ensuring the NYPD’s full cooperation in this critically important effort. Although the Task Force has accomplished much already, future progress reports will update on how the work is proceeding.