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Past and present 104th Precinct commanders work to tackle drug crime

Photos by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO 

A former 104th Precinct commander is helping his old command tackle narcotics crime in the area, the precinct’s current boss told residents during Tuesday’s 104th Precinct Community Council meeting at St. Matthias School in Ridgewood.

Capt. Mark Wachter said that Inspector Michael Cody, who led the 104th Precinct between June 2011 and February 2013, now commands the Queens Narcotics Division, and worked in close partnership with the 104th Precinct to crack down on drug activity in the area.

“Over the summer, we made a lot of narcotics arrests,” he observed. “This is a good move. Inspector Cody used to be a commanding officer here. He knows the spots and is loyal to the community. We’ve partnered up on a lot of narcotics investigations.”

One such investigation led to the recent break-up of a drug ring operating out of a Ridgewood bodega. According to Wachter, the deli was used as a base of operations in which drugs like cocaine were packaged, sold and distributed throughout the neighborhood. In another case, a vehicle stop over the summer yielded more than 400 vials of “Hydro” or synthetic marijuana.

According to Wachter, Inspector Cody is also involved with the investigation of the gunpoint robbery of a pharmacy at 60-61 Myrtle Ave. on Sept. 10 in which the suspect demanded the powerful narcotic oxycodone. Wachter called drug abuse “a big problem” in the community, with a high demand for such prescription narcotics on the black market.

Even so, Wachter reported that overall crime is dropping around the 104th Precinct, with sharp decreases in grand larceny, burglaries and auto thefts during the summer months. Year-to-date, the precinct had 100 fewer crimes reported.

“We’re heading in the right direction,” he explained. “One hundred crimes down is a hundred less victims.”

Wachter credits the joint effort between community members and police with the decrease in major crime in the area.

“We’re doing very good, and a lot of that has to do with the community helping us, the police, out,” Wachter said. “You live here, you work here, you know when something is suspicious and we appreciate that information. This is a partnership and it’s working well. With cooperation from the community, we can solve a lot of crimes.”

Wachter and the 104th Precinct Community Council honored Officer Colinton Coronado and Officer Hector Valdez with Cop of the Month awards for their dedication and valiant crime-stopping efforts throughout the summer. Both officers are part of the precinct’s Conditions Unit, which operates overnight and deals with a host of issues including narcotics, community complaints and quality-of-life concerns.

 

In the past two months, both Coronado and Valdez were responsible for five narcotics arrests, two robbery arrests, D.W.I. busts and one burglary arrest involving a break-in at home on Stephen Street in Ridgewood.

The officers and Wachter were also part of a team that was responsible for what the captain deemed a “major seizure” of fireworks in the community. According to Wachter, the 104th Precinct led the city in fireworks arrests and confiscations this year, with many officers volunteering to work on the busy July Forth holiday as an added precaution.

Captain Wachter praised the officers, calling them “jacks of all trades” due to their success in a number of areas. He also thanked them for bringing their families and children to the ceremony.

“This is really great for the communities to see,” he said. He and Precinct Council President Len Santoro presented the officers with plaques donated by the Ridgewood Times.

In another gesture of gratitude, members of the Highland Park Civic Association presented Captain Wachter with a special citation for his service and dedication to the neighborhood.

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