By Bill Parry
The new commanding officer of the 108th Precinct in Long Island City can’t top smiling since he replaced Deputy Inspector John Travaglia last week. Capt. Ralph Forgione joined the NYPD in 1989 and served much of his career in precincts throughout the borough where he was born and raised.
“I’ve got 28 years on the force and I could have retired, but I love being a cop so much,” Forgione said in an interview. “I love it here, that’s why I have this big smile on my face. I’m just trying to get a handle on everything that’s happening here. My first week and the governor was here. This place draws a lot of attention.”
The immensely popular Travaglia was transferred to the Internal Affairs Bureau in Manhattan just before Christmas after 25 months commanding the 108th, where crime dropped in most categories during the last two years. Travaglia told the Hunters Point Civic Association that he would have preferred to finish his career at the precinct but understood that it is NYPD policy to rotate commanders every two years.
“I always see Deputy Inspector Travaglia with a smile on his face and I told my wife now I know why,” Forgione said. “I know he was upset about the transfer. How could I want to do anything differently after all the success he had here? I just want to keep the ship moving in the right direction.”
It is Forgione’s first command after assignments at the 111th Precinct in Bayside, the 110th Precinct in Elmhurst and the 112th Precinct in Forect Hills. His most recent assignment was as an executive officer at the 114th Precinct in Astoria.
“Every one of those communities were so different, each with its own needs. Take Corona where there are always cars parked with no license plates,” Forgione said. “The community would go crazy cheering when we would show up and tow away 30 cars.”
He knows the 108th is very different.
“This is a commuter command with the Midtown Tunnel and the Queensboro Bridge and with all of the subways going through here. People come here, people park here and go into the city,” he said.
His new precinct spreads from Long Island City with its unprecedented growth through Sunnyside and Woodside.
“These communities are so different and so diverse it’s amazing, it’s only five miles,” Forgione said. “You just have to prioritize everyone’s issues and help each community. Some issues can be corrected in just one visit.”
The captain, who lives on Long Island with his wife and two children, has heard nothing but good things about the residents of his new precinct, and he is asking for their help in combatting the one crime category that remains a problem in his new precinct. Grand larcenies were up 17 percent in 2016, according to the NYPD.
“All I’m asking them to do is dot your I’s and cross your T’s,” he said. “Even if you’re just going to the market on the corner, just lock your doors and windows and don’t leave valuables in you car or your purse on the table when you go to the bathroom. Maybe in a year from now you can do that in the 108th.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr