104th Council Fetes Commanders
Community leaders came out in force to the 104th Precinct Community Council meeting last Wednesday, Jan. 30, at Maspeth Town Hall to bid adieu to the precinct’s former commanding officer and greet his successor.
Deputy Inspector Michael Cody, who was shifted from commander of the 104th Precinct to the same post 115th Precinct based in Jackson Heights, received many tokens of gratitude from elected officials and civic activists from Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth and Middle Village for his 18 months of service to the community.
Cody also helped to introduce attendees to Capt. Christopher Manson, the 104th Precinct’s new commanding officer, and formalized the transition by presenting Manson with the standard pin worn by every precinct commander in the NYPD. Chief Diana Pizzuti, commander of NYPD Patrol Borough Queens North, was on hand to oversee the ceremonial transition and meet with community residents.
Manson-who previously served as executive officer at the 109th Precinct in Flushing and the 114th Precinct in Astoria-noted that he had over 25 years of experience at the NYPD, serving under every rank in the department up to his current status. He pledged to be active in the community and use his experience to help fight crime and address quality of life problems around the area.
“I’ve worked all over,” he said. “Each neighborhood is different. I’ve learned a lot the last couple of days. I’ve taken notes. This will be different and unique. I’ll get to know you; you’ll get to know me. Things will work. Nothing’s going to go bad. We’ll work hard together.”
Pizzuti stated that she believed Cody left the precinct “in very good working order” for Manson. She added that the outgoing commander was instrumental in working to revitalize the 104th Precinct Community Council, which for years had been neglected.
“The civics are so strong in the 104th Precinct that the council wasn’t as strong,” she said, adding that under its previous leadership, the community council met jointly with other civics to get a crowd. “I know it was the mission of Inspector Cody to get your council up and running again. … I can see that the community is coming out.”
The chief also expressed her favor of the council’s decision to rotate its meetings around the communities within the precinct’s confines.
Speaking about the transition, Pizzuti told the audience that, “I know that people don’t like change, but it brings opportunity,” adding that the 104th Precinct is “in good hands with Captain Manson.” She added that the force was bolstered by the addition of 40 officers in the past year, the most of any command within Patrol Borough Queens North.
While assisting in his own transition to the 115th Precinct, Cody told residents that he briefed Manson to assist in his transition to the 104th Precinct. “Chris is ready to go,” the deputy inspector said. “You’re going to see he’s very receptive and eager to take on the challenge.”
Honors for Cody
In recognition of his year and a half of service at the 104th Precinct, Cody received a bevy of awards and plaques from community representatives. Among those to honor the deputy inspector was City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, who presented him with a City Council citation.
“I think a lot of us are sad to see you go,” she told Cody. “The second you got here, you went above and beyond the call of duty.” Crowley also stated that she looked forward to working with Manson in the years to come.
Representatives of State Sen. Joseph Addabbo, Assemblyman Mike Miller and Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan-and Community Board 5 Chairperson Vincent Arcuri- also presented Cody with citations. The 104th Precinct Community Council, led by President John Perricone, also offered the former commander with a certificate and a plaque donated by the Times Newsweekly in recognition of his service.
Perhaps the most unique gift came from the Glendale/104th Precinct Civilian Observation Patrol. The group’s president, Frank Kotnik, joined patrol members in presenting Cody with a custom blue-and-white street sign labeled “Capt. Mike Cody Boulevard.”
The deputy inspector was appreciative of the community’s support and gratitude over his tenure. He also stated that Manson is “eager to take on the challenge” at the 104th Precinct and would be receptive to the community’s needs.
“This was one of the best assignments I had on the job,” Cody added.
In his first council meeting as the precinct’s commander, Manson reported that the command experienced a slight increase in crime during the first few weeks of 2013. Felony assaults and burglaries experienced the highest spikes, with 23 assaults and 33 break-ins reported during the fourweek period that concluded on Jan. 27. During the same four-week period last year, there were 10 assaults and 25 burglaries.
Manson stated that 17 of the 23 assaults were domestic in nature, with 16 arrests made. Though burglaries are one of the toughest crimes to stop while in progress, the captain reported that the precinct was recently able to arrest two suspected burglars thanks to a tip provided by a caller to 911.
In that case, the commander explained, the caller observed two suspicious males approach the front door of a neighbor’s home, then walk to the back of the residence.
When police arrived at the scene a few minutes later, Manson said, the officers observed the two suspects attempting to pry open a rear window with a knife. The pair were taken into custody and are being investigated for a possible link to other recent break-ins around the community, he added.
A resident living in the vicinity of Eliot Avenue and 70th Street on the Middle Village/Maspeth border asked Manson about the precinct’s efforts to combat the theft of tires and rims from parked cars in the area. The attendee claimed that thieves struck two cars parked nearby, leaving the vehicles propped up on cinder blocks in their parking places.
“Tires and rims are plaguing parts of the city,” Manson replied, noting that crews of thieves have been roaming the five boroughs, quickly removing tires with high-powered tools. “It’s a hard crime to catch,” as they typically occur on residential streets late at night.
The captain urged all drivers in the area to take extra precautions to better secure their vehicles by parking in well-lit areas and turning the front wheels to the curb. The latter technique makes it more difficult for thieves to jack up parked vehicles.
Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, pressed the NYPD and the 104th Precinct to boost traffic enforcement on local streets. He noted that the command recorded low numbers of traffic summonses and moving violations issued last year.
“We don’t get help from the Highway Patrol,” Holden said. “We have more of a chance getting killed by a car than by a crime. We don’t have the patrols to catch these guys. The proof is in the stats.”
Pizzuti stated that the NYPD is keeping track of the statistics and working to address them with increased enforcement wherever possible.
Capt. John Travaglia, the 104th Precinct executive officer, added that the precinct has also “made strides” in combating combating serious moving violations such as driving while intoxicated (DWI). In a recent weekend operation, he stated, the command made eight arrests.
“We legitimately saved their life or someone else’s life,” he said. ‘We’re looking to get the biggest bang for our buck. We’re looking to push speed enforcement.”
Salvatore Candela, president of the Middle Village Property Owners/ Residents Association, asked about the investigation into a recent burglary of a jewelry store on Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village, adjacent to his office. Cody stated that the break-in was declared part of an active pattern and remains under investigation by the 104th Precinct Detective Squad.
Democratic District Leader Tom Bornemann also sought an update regarding the murder of a clerk at a Ridgewood deli on Dec. 20, 2012. The 104th Precinct Detective Squad is investigating a number of leads and is “moving in a positive direction on that case,” Cody added.
Pizzuti praised the efforts of the 104th Precinct, particularly Lt. James Lombardi, special operations coordinator, for reaching out to relatives and friends of the victim, Ishak Ghali, as well as members of the Coptic Orthodox community in the area regarding the case.
Saying thanks to first responders
Jeff Parness of the non-profit group New York Says Thank You spoke about the organization’s efforts to rebuild the homes of first responders living in areas hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy.
According to Parness, between 2,000 and 2,500 first responders living in the Rockaways, coastal Brooklyn, Staten Island and Long Island had their homes significantly or severely damaged by the storm, even as they worked to help other victims of the hurricane.
New York Says Thank You has made a commitment to help 200 first responders affected by Sandy who lacked the adequate insurance coverage to rebuild their homes. The assistance will be provided financially and through donations of materials and volunteer labor.
To find out more about the program, visit their website, www.newyorksaysthankyou.org.
The 104th Precinct Community Council will hold a special joint meeting with the Middle Village Property Owners/Residents Association on Monday, Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Margaret Parish Hall, located on 79th Place south of Juniper Valley Road in Middle Village. At last Wednesday’s 104th Precinct Community Council meeting at Maspeth Town Hall, the precinct’s former commander, Deputy Inspector Michael Cody (top photo, at right) presented the commanding officer’s pin to his successor, Capt. Christopher Manson (center). Chief Diana Pizzuti is shown looking on. Cody was also honored by various elected officials and organizations, including (second through fifth photos) the 104th Precinct Civilian Observation Patrol, the 104th Precinct Community Council, Community Board 5 Chairperson Vincent Arcuri and City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley.