According to an announcement made by Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, the New York City Police Department will be reassigning about 600 plainclothes officers into new positions, effective immediately.
Dermot shared that those officers that had been part of that division will still be working at the department, and will now have "a variety of assignments including detective bureaus, neighborhood policing, and other assignments." He also classified the news as a "seismic shift in the culture in how the NYPD polices this great city."
Of note is that the NYPD will still employ some plainclothes officers.
"What we always struggle with, I believe, as police executives, is not keeping crime down, it's keeping crime down and keeping the community with us and I think those two things, at times, have been at odds," Shea said, according to CNN.
"This is no reflection whatsoever on the men and women of the police department who are out there doing the work. This is a policy shift coming from me, personally."
NBC News New York adds that Shea stated the department's intent to try and keep guns off the streets. However, that will be done through more technological methods (which Shea classified as "intelligence, data, ShotSpotter, and video," in addition to help from the community) rather than raids targeting suspects.
NBC also wrote of the commish's anticipation of blowback due to this decision coming at the same time the city's crime rates rise. As they penned: "Shea also said that the department can do better and be safer for the public and for cops, while admitting he predicts a potential storm cloud ahead as shootings are up city-wide."
The NY Post reports that both shootings and murders in the city are up 25 percent when compared to this same time last year.
Reacting to the change, Police Benevolent Association President Pat J. Lynch bashed the decision by the commissioner. While stating that the now disbanded unit was in place to "protect New Yorkers by proactively preventing crime, especially gun violence," Lynch said that this move will lead to a bad outcome for the city.
"Shooting and murders are both climbing steadily upward, but our city leaders have clearly decided that proactive policing isn't a priority anymore," Lynch said. "They chose this strategy. They will have to reckon with the consequences."