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The NYPD will disband its controversial “anti-crime” units in an effort to make policing more relevant to the communities officers serve. The units have around 600 plainclothes officers working in unmarked cars across the city.

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea told The New York Times the units were part of an outdated policing model that often pitted officers against the communities they served, and the units had been involved in some of the city’s most notorious shootings.

The decision comes amid mass protests and demonstrations in New York, and across the country, that have centered around police brutality and systemic racism.

Shea told The New York Times, “This is a seismic shift in the culture of how the NYPD polices this great city, it will be felt immediately in the communities that we protect.”  He said the department had to focus on 21st-century policing, moving from brute force to intelligence gathering and technology to fight crime, and must also build trusting relationships between officers and the community.

The plainclothes officers that worked out of the department’s 77 precincts will be reassigned to neighborhood policing initiatives and the detective bureau, Shea said.

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Anna Bradley-Smith

Anna Bradley-Smith is Brooklyn-based reporter with bylines in NBC, VICE, Slate and others. Follow her on Twitter @annabradsmith.

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