On the Beat With NYPD's Rookie Class

Photos from Operation Impact, a program that sends untested officers into New York's most dangerous neighborhoods.

Update: In January, 2014, Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said that he plans to no longer send rookie officers immediately into impact zones. "I think they would benefit from it, working with officers in traditional precinct assignments," he said.

For more than seven years, the first assignment for nearly all rookie New York City police officers has been to patrol "impact zones" with the highest crime rates, often on foot and without backup. The program is credited with decreasing crime but has also been blamed for officer burnout and overly aggressive tactics. Photographer Antonio Bolfo followed a unit of new officers as they learned the ropes in high-rise public housing in the South Bronx. Bolfo, 30, says his project provided some much-needed closure: He's a former NYPD cop who'd walked the same beat a year earlier.

Officers walk through a snowstorm in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx.
Officers walk through a snowstorm in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx.
 
A rookie officer makes her way along a narrow ledge between two office buildings. Bolfo explains that officers looking for drug dealers "sneak around the exterior of buildings because they don't want to go in the front door."
A rookie officer makes her way along a narrow ledge between two office buildings. Bolfo explains that officers looking for drug dealers "sneak around the exterior of buildings because they don't want to go in the front door."
 
Cop walking down a graffit-covered stairwell
Housing-project stairwells are notoriously dangerous.
 
An officer detains a suspect inside a stairwell.
An officer detains a suspect inside a stairwell.
 
Three officers listen to a colleague ask for urgent assistance over the radio—without a patrol car, they have no way to respond.
Three officers listen to a colleague ask for urgent assistance over the radio—without a patrol car, they have no way to respond.
 
An officer sheds his civilian clothes and gets into uniform.
An officer sheds his civilian clothes and gets into uniform.
 
Officers spend their dinner break on a housing project roof.
Officers spend their dinner break on a housing project roof.
 
A rookie NYPD officer looks out over the Bronx from a rooftop.
A rookie NYPD officer looks out over the Bronx.