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NYPD getting rid of plainclothes anti-crime units

The New York Police Department (NYPD) said Monday that it will get rid of its anti-crime units and transfer plainclothes officers to other parts of the department.

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said during a press conference that the department will immediately reassign about 600 anti-crime officers to areas such as the detective bureau and neighborhood policing.

Shea called the overhaul “in the realm of closing one of the last chapters of stop-question-and-frisk.”

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“Make no mistake, this is a seismic shift in the culture of how the NYPD polices this great city,” he said. “It will be felt immediately throughout the five district attorney’s offices. It will be felt immediately in the communities that we protect.”

Police will still have plainclothes officers in other units, including surveillance, narcotics and transit teams, he said.

Shea emphasized that the decision was “no reflection” on the NYPD officers and insisted the recent protests in the city over the killing of George Floyd did not prompt the change, adding that discussions about the change had occurred for about a year.

“What we always struggle with, I believe, as police executives, is not keeping crime down — it’s keeping crime down and keeping the community working with us,” he said.

“This is not without risk,” Shea acknowledged. “And the risk will fall squarely on my shoulders.”

The Legal Aid Society, which serves low-income families and individuals, praised the decision.

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"There is no better place to start reducing the NYPD's headcount than by disbanding the Anti-Crime Unit, an outfit infamous for employing hyper-aggressive policing techniques to brutalize New Yorkers," a statement from the group read.

"This is welcome news, but New Yorkers will not be better served if these officers are simply reassigned, carrying with them the same bad habits that earned Anti-Crime its dismal reputation. The City must drastically reduce the NYPD’s headcount and use those funds to invest in communities. Anything less is simply window dressing to distract away from the greater systemic issues that currently roil law enforcement in New York.”

New York lawmakers passed a series of police accountability laws last week, in response to the protests over Floyd’s death, including a ban on law enforcement using chokeholds. Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoFor Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court upholds religious liberty Cardinal Dolan hails Supreme Court decision on churches, COVID-19 Cuomo blames new conservative majority for high court's COVID-19 decision MORE (D) also repealed a law that allowed officers’ disciplinary records to remain private.

New York City Council leaders last week backed a plan to reduce the NYPD’s budget by $1 billion as cities across the country explore their relationships with police departments.

Floyd was killed in Minneapolis police custody after a now-former officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes as Floyd said he couldn’t breathe and became unresponsive.