Commissioner Keechant Sewell said the new design will “ensure the safety of our officers, have a QR code to improve customer service and a revamped interior for a more efficient and comfortable work environment”
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By Rocco Parascandola and Thomas Tracy
New York Daily News
NEW YORK — The classic NYPD police car is getting a RoboCop-style reboot.
The department is in the process of redesigning its fleet of patrol vehicles, which will now have 360-degree cameras installed in them for constant monitoring of the streets, Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said Wednesday.
The city’s top cop made her announcement during the department’s annual State of the NYPD breakfast in Midtown hosted by the New York City Police Foundation.
“The NYPD RMP is iconic,” Sewell said during her remarks. “We are exploring potential design changes as we speak.”
RMP stands for radio motor patrol, a name coined decades ago still often used for marked NYPD vehicles.
While the design hasn’t been finalized, Sewell showed a brief video of the new vehicle, which will have a green stripe running down the side that connects to the 100-year-old NYPD flag.
Each car will also have a QR code printed on the outside of the vehicle that the public can scan and connect to the NYPD’s websites.
Sewell said the new design will “ensure the safety of our officers, have a QR code to improve customer service and a revamped interior for more efficient and comfortable work environment for our officers.”
New all-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E Sport Crossover Utility Vehicles, which were shown off at last year’s New York Auto Show, are among the models expected to take the place of the four-door “police interceptor” as the NYPD gradually retires its traditional sedan-based fleet.
The department’s 2023 Strategic Plan includes diversifying the workforce, providing better training, enhancing relationships with the public, furthering neighborhood policing and “promoting public safety and respect.”
“We must remain open of heart and mind to truly adopt this step-forward philosophy since, at its core, it requires us to never stop innovating,” Sewell said at the breakfast at Cipriani 42nd St. “We can never accept what we have as final and we must always strive to exceed expectations.”
Afterward, she told reporters there are no plans to expand the department’s use of facial recognition technology, a question raised with the announcement of another initiative — an “augmented reality” app.
That app will allow police officers to point their smartphones at a location, such as an apartment building, and learn about things like wanted suspects or previous 911 calls connected to the address. Such information is currently available to cops but takes time to get.
“Augmented reality,” Sewell said, “will help our officers better visualize that data.”
The top cop also said during her speech — attended by movers and shakers who contribute to the Police Foundation, a nonprofit that funds some NYPD initiatives — that the department now sends alerts containing preliminary summaries of crimes to city, state and federal elected officials.
“Our officials are passing laws that affect this city and this police department,” Sewell explained. “We want them to have the clearest picture of what crime looks like in every neighborhood in this city as well as issues that affect our constituents and our officers.”
Serious crime in 2022 jumped 22% over the year before, in part because of spikes in robberies and burglaries, but the jump slowed the second half of the year. And the 433 murders in 2022 were 11% fewer than in 2021. Shootings also dropped in 2022, by 17%.
Sewell in her first months dealt with a spate of shootings involving police officers, particularly the murders of Officers Wilbert Mora and Jason Rivera last January.
The first NYPD cop shot last year, Officer Keith Wagenhauser — hit in the head and wounded on New Year’s Day morning while he slept in his car in East Harlem’s 25th Precinct stationhouse parking lot between a New Year’s Eve shift and one due to start in a few hours — prompted a further look from Sewell. She said she has now moved to upgrade break rooms, many of them “in completely unacceptable conditions,” where cops will sometimes spend the night.
Sewell said the NYPD’s plan is the product of a “360-degree audit” that involved more than 600 recommendations from all corners of the nation’s biggest police force.
RELATED: NYPD shifting to hybrid SUVs, electric vehicles as traditional fleet is gradually retired
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