There’s a new boss in charge at Astoria’s 114th Precinct.
Captain Osvaldo Nunez, a 22-year veteran of the NYPD, officially took over for former Captain Peter Fortune on Sept. 25.
Nunez joined the force in 1996 and worked for the 33rd Precinct in Washington Heights. He was there for five-and-a-half years before being promoted to sergeant and transferring to the 46th and 44th precincts in the Bronx.
He also served as a special operations lieutenant in charge of teams like the anti-crime unit and street narcotics and nightlife enforcement. After 14 years on patrol, four years working on the Bronx narcotics team and a stint as captain and executive officer of the 46th Precinct, he was called up to work at the Joint Operations Center.
At the center, the NYPD monitors “heavy jobs,” Nunez said. These jobs range from shootings, barricaded events, emotionally disturbed persons, air, sea and water rescues and large-scale demonstrations.
“It was a great opportunity,” he said. “It was my first time working at a macro level where I was actually seeing the department at 30,000 feet.”
But after almost three years, Nunez wanted to get back on the street so he was transferred to the 114th Precinct.
“This is my first time [working] in Queens,” he said. “I hear great things about the 114th. It’s one of the most diverse precincts in the city and I keep hearing what great places there are to eat here.”
Nunez said he’s still trying to catch up and “absorb as much information about the neighborhood as I can.”
He said the department will focus on quality-of-life issues like noise complaints from construction and nightclubs. The precinct has closed 11 license premise locations since 2015, he said.
“Crime can be down dramatically and they don’t care because what they care about someone is not picking up after their dog or the bar down the street is making too much noise so I understand that and that’s why quality-of-life stuff is so important,” he said.
Nunez also touted the Neighborhood Coordination Officer (NCO) program, which was rolled out last October. The community now has easier access to each NCO since the department issued cellphones to each officer so they could speak directly with residents.
“That person, instead of calling 311 and getting routed to some big call center in downtown Manhattan, they can actually call the officer assigned to their post,” he said.
The captain grew up in East New York, Brooklyn “during the crack wars of the early ’80s and the late ’70s,” he said.
Nunez also lived across the street from the 75th Precinct and went to high school near 1 Police Plaza, which spurred him to join the force.
“Living across the street from the precinct, seeing the cops running out of the parking lot, I saw the camaraderie cops had and that was something I wanted to be a part of,” he said.
Nunez attended his first 114th Precinct Community Council meeting on Sept. 26 where he met community members and elected officials and is looking to meet more.
“I’m happy to be here and I look forward to working with the community,” he said. “It’s a welcome change of scenery.”