Photo Courtesy of Queens District Attorney’s Office
DA Richard Brown presented the check to Police Commissioner Jim O’Neill this week.
By Forum Staff
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown this week presented a check representing $20,391,864 in asset forfeiture funds to City Police Commissioner Jim O’Neill to support the NYPD’s implementation of a number of important new law enforcement initiatives in the World’s Borough.
The funds are 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 U.S. Department of Justice, and to pay an additional $665 million in civil penalties for its anti-money laundering program violations. The Queens DA’s Office, which, Brown noted, played a significant role in helping to develop the case against HSBC, received an equitable sharing award of $116 million from the U.S. Treasury Department’s program under this agreement for its contribution and efforts in the HSBC Holdings investigation. Under general Treasury guidelines, Brown explained, equitable sharing funds must supplement existing resources and be used only for valid law enforcement purposes. And the Queens DA-NYPD spending plan had to be approved by the Treasury Department’s Executive Office for Asset Forfeiture prior to the transfer of funds to New York’s Finest from Brown’s Office.
The more than $20 million in funds being provided to the department 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. This Neighborhood Policing initiative focuses on highly localized community-based efforts, with the goal of enhancing officer 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.
“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,” Brown said on Monday at a check-presentation ceremony at the Police Academy in College Point. “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.”
Additionally, funds will be used to purchase equipment for NYPD enhanced training initiatives at the Police Academy, as well as provide the newest training technology to all of its recruits.
A portion of the 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, Brown noted. 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.
“I want to thank Judge Brown for his leadership and for supporting this police department with critically essential funding,” O’Neill added. “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.”