NYPD Chief Kenneth Corey touts return to quality-of-life enforcement

Outgoing NYPD Chief of Department Kenneth Corey this week touted the department’s move to ramp up its quality-of-life enforcement – despite a revolving door criminal justice system that often doesn’t keep low-level criminals behind bars.

Corey — the NYPD’s highest ranking uniformed cop, set to retire next week – made the comments during a Monday evening interview on the “Cats at Night” show with John Catsimatidis on WABC 770 A.M.

“So we went back to a version of quality-of-life enforcement,” Corey said of the effort that began earlier this year. “We started it back in the spring, and we’ve been ramping it up as we go.”

The move marked a return to the zero-tolerance, “broken windows” policing strategies that were widely credited with reducing crime in the Big Apple during the 1990s.

The amped up quality-of-life enforcement marked a return to the “broken windows” policing strategies that knocked down Big Apple crime in the 1990s.
Paul Martinka

During an all-hands-on-deck March conference call with department-wide top-ranking officers – following a violent weekend with two dozen shooting incidents – the chief urged the supervisors to have their cops “engage with quality-of-life infractions and criminals,” sources told The Post at the time. 

Among other moves, local “neighborhood coordination officers” were shifted from helping detectives investigate unsolved crimes to enforcing quality-of-life offenses, including littering and fare evasion, the sources said.

“So the officers have begun addressing that, but remember, we didn’t do that for quite a number of years in New York City,” Corey said during the Monday radio interview.

“So we have an entire generation of police officers really… probably a third of the department, which is going to make up the bulk of the officers that are out there on patrol that have never engaged in that type of policing before.

An NYPD cruiser is seen in front of a Manhattan Target store.
Corey said an “entire generation of police officers” are now engaging in quality-of-life policing for the first time.

“So they need to be taught how to do it – which we’ve done – and now they need to get comfortable doing it,” he continued. “They need to know that their elected officials and their supervisors and their elected officials stand behind them.”

Corey said Big Apple crime would rapidly decline if the state’s soft-on-crime bail reform laws were toughened. 

“Listen to my mind – a simple tweak of the law,” he said. “Give judges the discretion to hold dangerous offenders and crime in New York plummets. It doesn’t come down gradually.”

“We know who drives crime in New York City, and we continue to arrest them over and over and over again,” he continued. “You put those people in jail [and] crimes will drop.” 

Two NYPD cops seen with their K9 dogs in an NYC subway station.
Corey said NYPD cops “need to know” that their elected officials and their own supervisors “stand behind them.”
Matthew McDermott

Corey – who joined the NYPD as a cadet in 1988 – acknowledged that some beat cops might be feeling “frustration” that criminals they have busted for low-level offenses are back out on the street before the ink is dry.

“We’ve had multiple examples where officers make an arrest [and] they issue a desk appearance ticket, which is what the law currently requires,” he said. “And then while they’re still there doing the paperwork, a different team of officers is walking that same person back into the same station house in handcuffs for a new crime. I mean, you can imagine that that’s frustrating and demoralizing at the same time.”

Meanwhile, he praised cops for working “harder” and “smarter than they ever have before” – trumpeting a 27% increase in felony arrests compared to the same period last year. 

“As a matter of fact, they’re at a 21-year high. So the last time we made this many major arrests [was in] 2001,” he said. “Although we have to keep in mind that back in 2001, we had 15,000 more of these crimes that took place than we do today. And we had about 9,000 more police officers out there as well. So fewer police officers with less crime, still making more of the arrests for that crime.”

A female police officer speaking on her radio in an NYC subway station.
Crime in the city’s subway system is up about 35 percent year-to-date, the latest stats show.
Stephen Yang

Still, the latest NYPD stats, updated Sunday, show a nearly 28% increase in the seven major felony crime categories compared to the same period last year – from 88,394 to 112,755 total incidents. 

Grand larceny, grand larceny auto and burglary saw the biggest jump during that period. 

However, murders are down about 12% year-to-date. Shooting incidents, which are not specifically included under the major felony categories, are down nearly 16% year-to-date. Shooting victims are down nearly 15%.  

But transit crime is up about 35% — with a total of 2,056 incidents reported so far this year compared to 1,521 during the same period last year.

Corey said the force knows he, Commissioner Keechant Sewell and Mayor Eric Adams stand behind them and that cops are “getting more comfortable” with tackling quality-of-life issues.

“And we see those incidents continuing to increase week after week,” he said. “But it’s gonna take time. We didn’t get to the position that we’re in overnight and there’s no easy fix for it.”