There are four upcoming meetings for the public to weigh in on what needs to happen to reshape the NYPD.

Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

Commissioner Shea and Mayor de Blasio at a briefing in May.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s latest bid to reform the NYPD has already come under fire, as Black Lives Matter activists have criticized the decision to exclude from the efforts’ leadership anyone from the protest movement that stirred the city to action. 

Instead, the direction of the new Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative Listening Sessions will be set by members of the city’s nonprofit establishment: New York Urban League head Arva Rice, Robin Hood Foundation CEO Wes Moore and Jennifer Jones Austin, who leads the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, chairs the city’s Board of Correction and led de Blasio’s transition team after the 2013 election.

The listening sessions, which were announced on October 13, began that evening and the initial round of eight is half over. The four remaining sessions are:

Friday, October 23 in northern Brooklyn 
Monday, October 26 in southern Brooklyn
Wednesday, October 28 in northern Manhattan
Friday, October 30 in southern Manhattan

More information about the effort is here.

Jones Austin joined the WBAI’s Max & Murphy Show on Wednesday to talk about the initiative and the impact of COVID-19 on the low-income communities that FPWA and its partners serve.

Mayor de Blasio was elected in part on a modest platform of criminal-justice reform and did dramatically reduce stop-and-frisk, but by installing William Bratton as his first police commissioner he embraced a philosophy of policing fundamentally at odds with calls for reform. A police officer’s killing of Eric Garner in the summer of 2014 was the first in a painful series of events that perpetually put the mayor on the defensive. As crime spiked this year, de Blasio and Police Commissioner Dermot Shea blamed 2019 bail reforms, despite evidence to the contrary.

Jones Austin says she believes the administration is open to considering real change, but delivering it will be hard work.

“I have confidence that Commissioner Shea understands reform needs to happen. I have confidence that he is honestly engaging,” she said. “I also understand and appreciate that we’ve been down this road before and that it’s going to take more than a sincerity of the heart, and that we’ve all at this point got to put forward the best effort possible.”

“I think the NYPD wants to do that,” she said. “I think they need to be helped.”

Hear the interview with Jones Austin below, or listen to the full show, which includes a chat with Assembly candidate Phara Souffrant Forest.

Jennifer Jones Austin on Policing, the Pandemic and Poverty

Max & Murphy Full Show of October 21, 2020