Queens District Attorney Presents NYPD With $20.4 Million In Federal Asset Forfeiture Funds To Support Department’s Community-Based Policing Initiative

All 16 Queens Precincts To Receive New Vehicles; Police Recruits To Receive Enhanced Training And New Technology, Computer Tablets, Upgraded Gun Holsters Among Other Items

At a ceremony held today at the New York City Police Academy in College Point, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown presented a check representing $20,391,864 in asset forfeiture funds to New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill to support the Department’s implementation of a number of important new law enforcement initiatives in Queens County.

District Attorney Brown said, “The principal use of the funds will be centered on enhancing Commissioner O’Neill’s community-based policing strategies in all 16 Queens County police precincts. In essence, it heralds the return of a familiar figure – the cop on the beat who knows the people and the community he or she serves. By forging closer, more meaningful relationships with local business owners, community advocates, religious leaders and residents, it is hoped that a line of dialogue can be opened up between the police and the communities that will result in mutual understanding and an easing of the tension and mistrust that ofttimes exists between the police and many of the communities they protect.”

District Attorney Brown continued, “This more neighborhood-oriented style of policing will go a long way in helping to enhance overall policing strategies and police/community relations while optimizing officer and public safety.”

“I want to thank Judge Brown for his leadership and for supporting this police department with critically essential funding,” said Police Commissioner O’Neill. “The $20 million Judge Brown has allocated for this department will be an important investment in neighborhood policing, our crime fighting strategy. This forfeiture funding will provide our cops with essential tools – like vehicles, technology, and training – they need to do their job. I thank him for this investment in us and helping us keep this city the safest big city in America.”

The $20,391,864 being provided by the Queens District Attorney’s Office to the NYPD is part of the historic 2012 HSBC Holdings agreement, in which HSBC admitted to money laundering and sanctions violations and agreed to forfeit $1.256 billion as part of a deferred prosecution agreement with the United States Department of Justice and to pay an additional $665 million in civil penalties for its anti-money laundering program violations. The Queens District Attorney’s Office, which played a significant role in helping to develop the case against HSBC, received an equitable sharing award of $116 million from the United State Department of Treasury’s program under this agreement for its contribution and efforts in the HSBC Holdings investigation. Under general United States Department of Treasury’s guidelines, equitable sharing funds must supplement existing resources and be used only for valid law enforcement purposes.

Pursuant to a spending plan approved by the United States Department of the Treasury’s Executive Office for Asset Forfeiture, the Queens District Attorney’s Office is directly transferring a total of $20,391,864 of its HSBC windfall award equitable sharing funds to the NYPD in order to support the Department’s implementation of a number of important new law enforcement initiatives and to enhance NYPD neighborhood policing strategies in Queens County and, in general, police/community relations in New York City.

District Attorney Brown noted that, in accordance with federal guidelines, the shared funds cannot be used to supplant the NYPD’s existing budget but rather will fund a variety of new law enforcement initiatives. As such, the more than $20 million in funds being provided to the NYPD will be used, in part, to purchase 264 new vehicles for use by uniformed police and assigned law enforcement officers in a new NYPD Neighborhood Policing model to be implemented in all 16 police precincts in Queens County. This Neighborhood Policing initiative focuses on highly localized community-based efforts, with the goal of enhancing office engagement with neighborhood-based sectors within precincts through active collaboration with community members in identifying crime and quality-of-life problems and patterns and developing and implementing strategies to address them.

This model, first initiated as a pilot in 2015 in selected precincts citywide, will expand to all areas in Queens County, with permanent two-officer teams assigned to specific neighborhood sectors in each precinct and on each shift.

District Attorney Brown said, “Working in the same area every day and staying within the established sector, these teams of officers will be enabled to become fully familiar with and address local conditions, engage with the community, better identify sector specific problems, conduct follow-ups, participate in community meetings and engage in collaborative problem-solving actions with sector residents and business owners.”

Assigned sector teams will also work in conjunction with Neighborhood Coordination Officers (NCOs), a select group of officers assigned as overall problem solvers for a given sector. With the goal that, through regular contact and familiarity with their NCOs, positive relationships with community residents will be fostered, NCOs play a key role in identifying problems and conditions, in leading fellow sector officers in addressing problems, and in connecting with neighborhood residents at local forums.

Prior to implementation of this new Neighborhood Policing Model, officers were routinely assigned to the overall precinct, tied to the radio, running from call to call and neighborhood to neighborhood, with little or no time for proactive problem-solving or other activities that might strengthen relationships with neighbor residents. This program will allow for more regular contact with specific neighborhoods within each precinct, with increased patrol personnel out in the field at any given time. The model also has proven to be effective in other respects as well, with a recent NYPD analysis showing average response time down 10.6 percent in NCO commands due to the extra personnel on patrol.

Additionally, funds will be used to purchase equipment for NYPD enhanced training initiatives at the NYPD’s new state of the art Police Academy in College Point, Queens, as well as provide the newest training technology to all of its recruits.

Finally, funding will be used to purchase 19,000 new upgraded gun holsters, which will be a critical enhancement to safety for both uniformed members of service on patrol and members of the public to ensure security in the event that officers are confronted with an aggressive suspect. The requested holsters will be issued to all newly hired recruits; for all other uniformed NYPD members, it is intended that holsters will be replaced upon re-qualification of firearms training.

“We believe that these initiatives are extraordinarily important,” said District Attorney Brown, “and will help enhance overall policing strategies and police/community relations while optimizing officer and public safety.”

District Attorney Brown thanked Homeland Security Investigations Group Supervisor and Queens County District Attorney Lieutenant Frank DiGregorio who co-led the El Dorado investigation, which led to the historic HSBC settlement and to Executive Assistant District Attorney Eileen Sullivan for her efforts in getting federal approval for the transfer of funds to the NYPD.