A day before he was to address graduates from the police academy last Thursday at Madison Square Garden, Police Commissioner William Bratton sat with Amsterdam News Editor-in-Chief and Publisher Elinor Tatum and reporter Herb Boyd at police headquarters to discuss the latest policy developments in the NYPD. He was joined by First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker.

Some of the great changes he discussed at the graduation was given a dress rehearsal with the AmNews, including the issues of diversity and the dismantling of Operation Impact.

Before answering questions, the commissioner offered some background history on the department and his previous tenure as chief of the transit police in 1990 and 1991 under Mayor David Dinkins and police commissioner under Mayor Rudy Giuliani in 1994. He began by explaining his department’s current policy based on what he called the five Ts: “Trust, terrorism, technology, training and tactics.”

AmNews: When you say terrorism, does that include domestic terrorism? We’ve had seven churches burned over the last week or so.

Bratton: When we speak of terrorism, we mean it in a broad sense. Our primary focus [is on] the overall threat to the city—the hijackings, attacks by Islamic terrorists … the neo-Nazi kind of attacks are very minimal. The third area we’re focusing on is technology and the acquisition of a lot of it. Body cameras, smartphones, tablets in the cars … all of which should make our jobs much easier.

The fourth area is training. This is what Ben is responsible for. And we’ve just put 22,000 officers into three days of training. The last area is tactics. The whole plan of action focuses on redesigning the precincts so that the officers have more time to interact with the community. This plan of action is carefully constructed for the issues we face in 2015, not the issues of 1994 or 1975.

The three days of training, is that an arbitrary number?

Bratton: No, that was carefully calculated. Maybe Ben can explain how we arrived at the three days.

Tucker: We spent a lot of time designing these three days of training, a very specific process. We realized that of all the things the officers learn at the academy, tactics is a perishable skill. And after you graduate from the academy, you never receive any additional training in tactics, unless you become part of a specialized unit. Most police officers never receive refresher training. We added another day for trust, particularly around the issue of procedural justice and in communities of color. Much of this additional training on tactics and trust is about the officers taking care of themselves. And if they take care of themselves mentally and physically, and how to manage stress, then they will be in a better place to take care of others.

Over the last five or 10 years, the relationship between the NYPD and the community has not been in a forward trajectory. What broke down?

Bratton: A couple of things. A major focus of the department over the last 10 or 12 years was a belief that a key element in continuing to reduce crime was a very assertive police force that would be very actively engaged in what can be described as proactive policing but what became stop, question and frisk. Of the more than 700,000 stops, only 2 percent of them [stopped] had weapons or handguns.

I described it as a patient going to the doctor to have his cancer treated and the doctor identified where the cancer is … [Ed. He didn’t finish this analogy but at other times he has used the example to suggest that once the treatment is successful, the patient was getting better and there was no need for more radiation. In other words, stop-and-frisk was working and crime was down dramatically.]

The vast majority of activity ended up impacting the minority community, very specifically the Black community, and this increased the alienation that’s always been there. And you would have thought the [tactic] would make those communities much safer … and that the relationship would improve, but it didn’t. We did extensive polling, some 17,000 people were polled … I think a lot of it [the alienation] had to do with the posture of not recognizing and publicly acknowledging that the stop, question and frisk initiative was poisoning the well.

Ironically, our predecessor, Commissioner [Ray] Kelly, initiated two actions. One action was to significantly cut back on stop, question and frisk … and as we came into office in 2014, the numbers had declined dramatically, but they never acknowledged it. Secondly, a clarification on the issue of marijuana arrests, the so-called “plain view,” where an officer would ask someone to empty their pockets and [drugs] would be found and an arrest would be made. When we came into office, the marijuana arrests had dropped dramatically. Those are two particular activities that were at the forefront of the alienation.

Tucker: One of the other issues that really challenged us and a by-product of stop-and-frisk issue was the fact that the previous administration was sending new graduates from the police academy into impact crime [zones] without any support, any mentoring, any guidance from senior officers to show them the way … that exacerbated the problem. So we made a decision not to send new recruits into these [areas] and to assign senior officers and partnered them often with community leaders as part of the solution. This practice was conducted in the “Impact Zones.”

When are we going to get police officers from the communities they are actually serving? It used to be that the police officer was your next-door neighbor. It’s like they don’t exist in our neighborhoods any more.

Bratton: The class that graduated in January that is now out in the precincts was the first time in 15 or 20 years that the officers had not gone to Impact Zones. The class that we are graduating tomorrow [July 2], 840 [it was actually 822] are also going out to all those precincts. The kids out there from the last class will stay in those precincts. We are slowly doing away with the Impact Zones … we are totally changing the learning experience of these new kids. It’s beefing up in all of our precincts the number of officers who will now be responsible for dealing with the local problems of the precincts. Hopefully they’ll get to know the good kids from the bad kids. It’s bringing back the idea of officers who know the neighborhoods they’re working in. Additionally, we have the Pilot Precinct program in four precincts currently, and we will be expanding this over the next year to many more.

Will they be on the beat or in a car?

Bratton: They are going to be on the beat, in a car, in the schools and in business areas. And we have these neighborhood coordinating officers, NCOs—all volunteers, all highly skilled officers who have worked in these neighborhoods for many years—they will have folks’ email addresses, phone numbers, so the NCO is a new element to the plan. This is part of our plan to do away with the Impact Zones. But your point about cops living in the community—55 percent of our officers live in the city.

But where do they live, in what boroughs?

Tucker: They are in Queens, Brooklyn … certainly on Staten Island

Bratton: A higher percentage of our civilian employees live in the city. Secondly, Ben has recruited a new cadet program of about 650 cadets who are hired by the department and all of them are city residents. There’s the other idea of representation, which we have been getting Blacks into the department, we’ve been having trouble attracting Asian women into the department … the group you need to talk to on this issue would be the Guardians Association about the efforts they are making and working with Ben, and even Kim [Deputy Chief Royser] and her relationship with Black Law Enforcement Executives.

Tucker: When it comes to the issue of recruiting [of minorities], you have to understand that 50 percent of the people we get drop out. So we are looking at how to change this. And we are particularly concerned about the falloff of African-American males. They are down to 6 percent of Black males for the current graduating class and 5 percent for Black females. So 11 percent is a low over the last four or five years. We now have recruitment centers in Brooklyn, Queens and one here at One Police Plaza. We want to create a more positive environment and we will be centralizing our Candidate Assessment Center in the old police academy on 20th Street.

Bratton: Over 50 Black candidates who had dropped out and we lost track of are now back in the system. They will be coming into the class of 1,200 officers we are hiring next week. Of that class, 16 percent will be Black compared to the current 11 percent graduating tomorrow. So what you have, already, is a 5 percent increase. [With this interview] we have given you one bite of the apple and let’s talk about further bites.