Having worked in the area more than 20 years ago, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly told a packed 102nd Precinct Community Council meeting that “this neighborhood is much better [now] than it was [then]. They’re [the 102nd Precinct] doing a terrific job.”
Kelly was the meeting’s special guest on Wednesday night, October 21, where, in the moments before he arrived, a hushed silence fell over the crowd.
“I’ve never come to a place this organized,” he joked, before helping to award “Cop of the Month” honors to Officers Negron and Bond, who, at 4 a.m. on October 9, responded to a burglary in progress.
The pair observed a suspect fitting the description given, stopped him, and noticed he was wanted for numerous burglaries in the area.
“They were able to close out a pattern,” said Captain Armando DeLeon, Commanding Officer of the 102nd Precinct.
“It’s really good to have the Police Commissioner [here],” said Maria A. Thomson, President of the Community Council.
Kelly then took the mic, explaining that, “When this administration started, we said we’d focus on three ‘Cs’ – crime suppression, counter-terrorism and community affairs.”
Of the last, he noted that Precinct Councils are a vital part of the NYPD.
“It’s an extremely important forum for the department, to get your feedback and concerns. Our relations with the many communities of New York – by far the most diverse city in the world – are better now than they’ve ever been.”
Kelly explained that, “because of the good work of the men and women of the NYPD, crime continues to go down [even at] a time when the budget has been significantly reduced.”
Down 40 percent since September 11, 2001, reported crime has been reduced by 11 percent this year alone, according to the Commissioner. This, he said, despite 5,800 fewer cops in eight years.
“Recorded crimes are as low as they’ve ever been in the city,” Kelly informed the audience.
However, he hopes that within 18 months there will be a “significant” hire of new officers.
The department is doing more with less, Kelly said, with Operation Impact reducing crime by as much as 30 percent in some areas; a “pretty aggressive, proactive graffiti program”; and counter-terrorism efforts throughout the city and the world.
“Terrorism is a reality of life in this country and particularly in New York City these days,” he said, urging everyone to “look at your surroundings through the prism of 9/11.”
In fact, 1,000 police officers or their full-time equivalent are devoted every day to anti-terror. Additionally, said Kelly, “We have honed and refined our own language skills,” and law enforcement agents are embedded with police agencies in such cities as Madrid, London, Tel Aviv, Aman, and others.
And diversity within the NYPD is up as well, with recruits of the most recent Police Department class born in 58 countries.
“The police officer rank is now majority minority,” said Kelly, who noted that anyone interested in a career in law enforcement should call 212-RECRUIT or visit www.nyc.gov/nypd.
Kelly then opened up the floor to the crowd for a question-and-answer session, which focused on obtaining more police; a decrease in crimes in the transit system; and applause for the 102nd Precinct, especially Community Affairs Officers Jay Remsen and John McCoy.
“Community Affairs is such a vital part of the precinct team,” said Kelly.
An appreciative woman then presented the Commissioner with a plaque, and he recognized 20-year-old Delare Rathour, an Auxiliary Officer who received a scholarship at One Police Plaza on Tuesday, October 20.
Rathour, a Queensborough Community College student, plans to go on to John Jay.
The 102nd Precinct Community Council meets the third Tuesday of every month at 8 p.m. at The Moose Lodge at 87-25 118th Street in Richmond Hill.