What Westchester Needs To Know About Their Police Force

White Plains Public Safety Commissioner David Chong’s views on policing and working with, and serving the community.

With all the negative press police have received nationally, it’s reasonable to think White Plains Public Safety Commissioner David Chong would be discouraged. Heading up White Plains’ largest department, Chong has the city’s police—the eighth largest police department in New York State—fire, EMS, and 911 services reporting to him. But his decorated history with the NYPD has prepared him well. (Chong previously served as undercover detective, sergeant, detective sergeant, lieutenant, and lieutenant detective commander in units such as the narcotics, organized crime investigations, and homicide squad during his time in the NYPD.) While the 36-year veteran declined to comment on recent high-profile incidents (including  the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases, and the 2011 Kenneth Chamberlain shooting in White Plains), he shares his thoughts on what the public should know about police work.

White Plains Public Safety Commissioner David Chong

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Police aren’t strictly law enforcers.

“The enforcement of law is actually a small part of what we do; we’re all-around service providers. That includes enforcing the law, but most of it is truly non-law- enforcement related: helping at accidents, finding lost people, taking reports. When we are enforcing the law, it’s because we were called about an incident or were made concerned by the public that criminal activity was taking place.”

Citizen outreach is critical.

“We have a citizens’ police academy in which citizens act in scenarios common to police calls, so they can experience firsthand the variety of what officers deal with every day. I have a citizen’s advisory board that meets with us quarterly and represents people from all over the city.”

Problems with policing are taken as learning opportunities.

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“Any time an incident occurs and a life is taken, it’s tragic; and we look internally at ourselves—even if we have nothing to do with it—to see if there’s any possibility of avoiding it in the future. Officers engage hundreds of thousands of people a year just in [White Plains], and if you think of all the engagements that officers have with people and take the one or two cases that are broadcast or turn tragic, it really is a very minute percentage of our daily engagements with our citizens.” 

The police are here to serve.

“The best way we serve the public is to have the public on our side, and the best way to do that is to communicate. Most people who come into this profession come from noble causes. But certainly when [people] protest, we hear it from the very top.” 

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