BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO
The changing of the guard at the 104th Precinct became official during Tuesday night’s 104th Precinct Community Council meeting at Ridgewood’s Peter Cardella Senior Center.
Capt. Christopher Manson, who led the Ridgewood-based command for 26 months, handed over the reigns to the new commander, Capt. Mark Wachter. In what he joked was a “secret” NYPD ceremony, Manson presented Wachter with the commander’s pin, which is worn by all commanding officers on the lapel opposite their shields.
Manson, who was transferred to the 110th Precinct in Elmhurst, reflected fondly on his time at the 104th Precinct.
“I enjoyed myself thoroughly working with this community over the past two years,” he said. “We are showing reductions in some of the major crime categories and I’m sure the trend will continue under Captain Wachter.”
The Community Council thanked Manson and presented him with a plaque in appreciation of his service. They then introduced Wachter and turned the meeting over to him.
“I’m very happy to be here. It’s like coming back home to the old neighborhood,” Wachter said.
Wachter was raised in Glendale where he attended St. Pancras School and Christ the King High School. He joined the NYPD in 1996 and previously served as the executive officer of the 110th Precinct in Corona, 114th Precinct in Astoria and 115th Precinct in Jackson Heights.
Most recently, Wachter served as the commanding officer of the Citi Field Detail in Flushing. His team provided security and traffic details during Mets home games, as well as conducted crime control operations throughout Queens while the Mets were on the road.
“Captain Manson left us in a very good place. I hope to continue that,” he said. “Every major category of crime is down. We’re going to try and continue Captain Manson’s strategies.”
One such strategy Captain Wachter hopes to build upon is increasing community awareness and outreach: “We look at the crimes as numbers, but each number is actually a person.”
This change in leadership comes on the heels of a very eventful two-week period in the 104th Precinct.
“I went out with a bang, that’s for sure,” Captain Manson quipped.
Manson addressed Saturday’s shooting outside the Arena Pool Hall on Palmetto Street and St. Nicholas Avenue in which 21-year-old Eric Santiago was shot in his stomach. Santiago sustained a ruptured abdominal artery and succumbed to his injuries seven hours later at Wyckoff Hospital.
Manson believes the shooting was the result of gang involvement in Brooklyn. “This isn’t a random shooting,” he said. “He was an intended target. I don’t think they wanted to kill him but rather send a message.”
Wachter praised the new gun detection technology unveiled earlier in the week by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Commissioner Bill Bratton as a “great tool” in combating such incidents of gun violence. Under the new ShotSpotter system, sensors installed on light poles and buildings would be able to detect and triangulate gunshots, as well as alert NYPD officers via Smartphone or tablet devices. The technology aims to increase response time and accuracy. The program is currently in pilot phases in areas of the Bronx and Brooklyn.
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