Since last fall the New Rochelle Police Department has quietly begun to put more cops on the street, at least briefly, in certain high crime areas including downtown New Rochelle and the area around Lockwood Avenue and North Avenue.
In a "Park and Walk" patrol, a police officer will leave his vehicle to walk a particular route in a problem area for about 30 minutes. During that time the officer is considered unavailable to respond to calls except in an emergency situation.
The initial response has been positive.
"Any program that provides more visibility in the downtown is a very good idea", said City Council Member Ivar Hyden whose district includes the city center. "I am favor of a police presence in downtown."
Some New Rochelle residents have been calling for a greater police presence in downtown New Rochelle for years including police on foot post and a downtown kiosk.
"Five thousand people have signed a petition calling for more police in downtown", said Jim Killorin of Westchester Habitat for Humanity and long-time proponent of a police kiosk in the center of the downtown area.
The New Rochelle Police force is down over 30 officers from past years due to budgetary constraints and there are no plans to increase the force anytime soon forcing the department to do more with less.
"Foot patrol is the most expensive form of patrol," said New Rochelle Police Captain Kevin Kealy.
Kealy says he can recall the time when there were only cops on the beat in downtown but uninformed officers directing traffic. Park and Walk is a way to achieve elements of a foot patrol on a limited basis while continuing to allow officers to cover more ground more quickly in their vehicles.