NYPD

'Omnipresence': The NYPD's New Secret Orwellian Tactic

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As reported by John Surico at Vice, the NYPD has been quietly deploying a tactic called "Omnipresence," which involves floodlights pointed at housing projects all night long, parked police cars on sidewalks with their menacing blue and white lights flashing, and beat cops indefinitely stationed on street corners as a new means of policing pre-crime. Surico calls it "stop and frisk 2.0."

All of the lights!
Twitter/Katrina Lipinsky

Stop and frisk as commonly understood is barely practiced anymore, having died an ignominious death in 2013 when Judge Shira Schiendlin ruled that searches of black and Latino youths based on generalized suspicion was unconstitutional.

Former mayor and ardent stop-and-frisk enthusiast Michael Bloomberg defended the practice on his WOR radio show, "the kids think they're going to get stopped, so they don't carry the gun. And if you can't do that, you turn the city over to the criminals, literally overnight."

The post-Bloomberg NYPD is not about to let the city revert to a scene from "The Warriors" without a fight, so instead of instilling citizens with the fear that they can be stopped and searched for no reason at any time, they want the public to know that they are there, all the time, and always watching. If that sounds Orwellian to you, you're not alone. Surico writes of "Omnipresence":

"That's the comically Orwellian (and completely fucking terrifying) name for the freshest tactic in the NYPD playbook. To her, the bright beams mean one thing: The cops are here until dawn."

Unlike stop and frisk, very little public information exists on Omnipresence. It's barely google-able. Surico cites a single article in the The New York Times as the only other major outfit to report on it at all. The NYPD has made no public statements explaining the tactic. It's just there. 

Perhaps Mayor Bill de Blasio and his NYPD Commissioner William Bratton learned from the mistakes of their predecessors, who clung to stop and frisk even as it became a public relations disaster for them. During the trial of stop and frisk, Eric Adams, a former NYPD captain and New York State Senator testified that then-NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly hoped that stop and frisk would "instill fear" in the young men of Gotham's high crime areas, and that would in turn keep guns off the street. 

The experience of all-night flood lights on courtyards and the always unnerving sight of flashing police cruiser lights might just be instilling the fear Kelly envisioned. And by avoiding belligerent public pronouncements of impending anarchy, the new bosses can claim to be post-stop-and-frisk reformers. 

Still, with a name like "Omnipresence," it's going to be hard for the NYPD to keep this a secret for too long. 

Reason TV reported on the stop and frisk trial in 2013:

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  1. How can people appreciate their oppression if you don’t oppress them?

  2. Why not just force citizens to be monitored electronically, 24/7? Except, of course, when cops are around, to protect their rights.

  3. Are they trying to force a full on revolt?

    1. Well, it’s definitely revolting.

    2. The article quotes several residents supportive of this. That is how shitty the projects are.

      1. Wow.

      2. That’s what happens when you confiscate a bunch of houses from poor people who owned or rented them and build high-rises to concentrate desperately poor people from sort-of-shitty neighborhoods all over the city.

        1. This.

          I once sold a bost to a guy from Chicago. I delivered the bost to him in Chicago. I had never seen that type of high rise public housing. I could not imagine the horror of living in one of them.

          He bragged to me,” you down in Texas mess up by giving these people jobs in the government and such. That just screws up your government agencies. We put them in these projects and just give them enough money to survive on.

          That keeps our government offices effecient and seperates us from those peope”.

          I was floored. I had though that Northerners were truely more racially advanced than us because I had always read that.

          That day I realized that it what he said was the way many in the north felt, since they did do it that way, and that it was wrong to knowingly and purposely, do that to a group of people.

          1. Pardon me for not proofreading before I post.

            I’m celebration a major business score with martinis.

            1. Still didn’t explain what “bost” means.

  4. Something tells me that this technique is not being used on, say, The Dakota or The Carlton House or The Mondrian.

    1. Look, pay your protection tax, and such measures won’t be necessary.

  5. NYPD… come out to plaaaay-aaaaay…

    1. “Shame on Nigga that try to run game on a nigga!”

  6. “the kids think they’re going to get stopped, so they don’t carry the gun.

    I and my rock are all that stand between you and the ferocious man-eating tigers, you thankless ignorant fools!

  7. beat cops indefinitely stationed on street corners

    I see nothing wrong with beat cops actually out patrolling the streets of a neighborhood. Although I get the feeling that’s not what this actually is.

    1. No, it’s cruisers parked on the sidewalks with their lights flashing – basically, a pepetual crime scene. Very inviting, isn’t it?

      1. Why on the sidewalk instead of the street?

  8. How long before they recognize it for what it is and just start ignoring it?

    1. That’s when the truncheons come out.

  9. I see nothing wrong with beat cops actually out patrolling the streets of a neighborhood.

    In theory this is a good idea. It’s what neighborhood policing should be about. However, I am 100% certain this tactic, in practice, is a giant ostentatious demonstration that the NYPD views its fundamental mission as rounding up as many people as possible (no matter how flimsy the reason), and locking them in cages

    1. It’s a set up for a bunch of new cop-shots-unarmed-teenager stories.

  10. I see nothing wrong with beat cops actually out patrolling the streets of a neighborhood.

    In theory this is a good idea. It’s what neighborhood policing should be about. However, I am 100% certain this tactic, in practice, is a giant ostentatious demonstration that the NYPD views its fundamental mission as rounding up as many people as possible (no matter how flimsy the reason), and locking them in cages

  11. ” Michael Bloomberg defended the practice on his WOR radio show…”

    There’s no way in hell anyone gives a shit what he has to say, or would listen to his radio show for any reason other than morbid curiosity.

    1. I propose we name what is about to happen the “Michael Rubens Bloomberg Civil War.” He deserves to be remembered.

      Some day people will blog, “You know who else wanted to ban 32oz sodas?” in His Honor.

      1. Well ‘you know who’ would’ve gotten around to that eventually.

      2. “You know who else wanted to ban 32oz sodas?”

        Bill De Blasio – yep, he’s taking up the banner. Forward!

        1. A Great Leap Forward ?

          Yeah !

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