Hidden in plain sight riding the subway, driving through midtown, or being part of the crowd on New Year’s Eve in Times Square are the plainclothes officers of the New York Police Department.
These officers are charged with staying in the background until needed to jump into action. Although they are not out in the open like uniformed officers, they are still at risk. This has been demonstrated when Officer Brian Moore was shot last weekend.
According to the Northwest Herald, officials for the NYPD will not disclose the exact number of officers who go to work every day in street clothes instead of uniform. It is the belief of experts and former officers however, that the number could be in the hundreds.
What they wear is not the only difference between the two. Plainclothes officers are tasked with stopping criminal behavior while it’s happening or preventing it in the first place. This assignment is in contrast to uniformed police, who respond to emergency calls placed during or after an incident has occurred.
James O’Neill, Chief of Department, reportedly told the Associated Press that part of the plainclothes policeman’s duties is targeting “the small segment of the population that commits most of the crime.”
The Northwest Herald also reported that on May 2, Officer Brian Moore was patrolling with his partner in an unmarked police car through Queens when they saw a man, Demetrius Blackwell, reaching in his waist band on the side of the street. Authorities said the officers went up to Blackwell. Moore then informed him that he was a police officer. Moore asked Blackwell if he had “something” in his waistband, and allegedly Blackwell answered he did. The suspect then brought out a gun with which he shot at the men three times. Moore, 25 was struck in the cheek and head.
Blackwell, an ex-convict, has been charged with murder. He has filed a not guilty plea.
In January, two other plainclothes policemen were involved in a similar shooting in the Bronx during an armed robbery investigation at a grocery store. These officers and Moore were all part of plainclothes units which move throughout the city to prevent crime from occurring.