By Naeisha Rose
Jeffrey Schiff, the former inspector of the 105th Precinct in Queens Village, may be gone, but the leaders of the southeast Queens communities he served will certainly not forget him. On June 27, 13 different civic organizations will honor him at his previous police station.
“I have been going to the 105th Community Council meetings for more than a decade and I have been involved with many commanding officers, and we’ve had some really good ones,” said President Bob Friedrich of the Glen Oaks Village Co-op, “but by far the best is Schiff.”
Schiff announced May 25 that he was transferred to the Counterterrorism Division in Brooklyn and that he would start his tenure there May 29, Civic leaders will honor him at the 105th Precinct, which is located at 92-08 222nd St. at 7 p.m..
Over the course of 22 years Schiff, 51, has served at eight police precincts and has helped to shake up the NYPD in some unconventional ways.
He was born in Brooklyn within the 76th Precinct and raised in Bellerose within the 105th.
Growing up, he did not dream of becoming a police officer. Instead he wanted to join the military like his relatives once he finished his engineering degree from Polytechnic University. His grandfather served in World War II in Italy, his father, uncle and cousin served during the Vietnam War, and two aunts and two uncles joined the Air Force during the 1970s to 1980s.
He received his degree January 1991 and he was ready to enlist with the Navy or the Air Force during the Cold War (1947-1991) and Gulf War (1990 –1991), but a thawing of relations between Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev and President George H.W. Bush led to both presidents working together to bring about a ceasefire in Iraq for the latter conflict.
“Gorbachev made peace with America, so they cut all the defense budgets and they weren’t accepting any more recruits into the Air Force or the Navy,” said Schiff.
Schiff decided to then follow in the footsteps of his aunt, P.O. Jeanette Torres (107th Precinct), and uncle, Sgt. Emilio Torres (108th Precinct), by signing up for the NYPD, all the while working different jobs to make ends meet during a recession (1990-1992) and into the mid-1990s.
He worked in plumbing, for a photo company, an insurance company, as a statistician, an electrical engineer and for the Archdiocese under the Archbishop of New York Cardinal John O’Connor before he got the call to join the NYPD.
“I got the call on July 17, 1996 at 9:30 p.m.,” said Schiff.
On July 18 he went to Queens College in Flushing for an orientation and would go throughout the city to be trained as a police officer for eight months. He graduated in March 1997 and earned a third place award for the academic portion of his police academy class, which consisted of 1,492 cadets. This distinction allowed him to choose his first precinct.
“I wanted to be back in Queens, so I chose the 103rd Precinct,” he recalled.
He worked as a police officer in Jamaica until July 2001 and transferred to the 108th Precinct in Long Island City as a sergeant. Two months after he started at his new department he clocked in 14-hour days after the attack on the World Trade Center (Sept. 11, 2001) and became a lieutenant within three years instead of the usual five.
He was a lieutenant from June 2004 to July 2007 at the 1st Precinct at Ground Zero in Manhattan, and became a captain at the 76th Precinct in Battery Park from July 2007 to April 2008. He continued his career as an executive officer by serving as a captain at the 68th Precinct at Sunset Park until October 2008 and 67th Precinct until 2012.
Schiff made waves once he returned to the 76th Precinct in May 2012 after he learned how to use Twitter and Facebook and became the first commanding officer to use the social media platforms to post information on parolees.
“A reporter from DNAinfo caught on… and then the Legal Aid Society was not happy about what I was doing,” said Schiff. “In my defense these were parolees… not with one or two arrests, but 50.”
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly asked him to quit posting on the platforms until a guideline was created, and in 2013 he was vindicated when two parolees he reported on were arrested weeks apart upon leaving prison, according to the inspector.
In 2013, Schiff started his own campaign within the 76th Precinct after several thefts occurred in Carroll Gardens. He sent officers to the neighborhood to take notes on where they spotted unsecured expensive items that were easy to see.
“The Spot It To Secure It campaign started when I noticed that people were leaving expensive items out on their car seats that you can see from the window,” said Schiff. “I would tell officers to take a picture of the items and run the license plate so we could inform the owner about thefts in the area. That drove the thefts down 50 percent.”
After his social media vindication and his campaign, which was picked up by the Boston and Nassau County police departments, Schiff was promoted to deputy inspector. In 2014, Commissioner William Bratton allowed commanding officers of the NYPD to use Twitter and Facebook to post information on suspects, parolees, community council meetings and more.
“I actually changed the culture,” said Schiff. “The use of social media is not going away anytime soon… and this is a part of my legacy.”
Schiff was transferred to work as the deputy inspector of the 106th Precinct in Ozone Park in September 2013 to bring down crime, which rose slightly with the opening of Resorts World Casino in South Ozone Park in 2011, and after successfully helping crime drop by 30 percent by February 2016, he was sent to the 105th Precinct.
“The 105th Precinct is the crown jewel of Queens and is the fifth-largest precinct in the city,” said Schiff.
After engaging with the civic organizations within the 105th Precinct to help bring down crime, he was promoted to inspector on June 26, 2016.
“Every month Schiff did a power point presentation and broke down the statistics and broke down the comp stat numbers, and he puts pictures up there so we know who the parolees were,” said Friedrich.
Community Board 13 Chairman Clive Williams is also fond of Schiff.
“He brought a civility to the 105,” said Williams. “He believed in technology and kept people in the loop by text, email, Facebook and Twitter. We in the community felt like we were partners with the precinct.”
Schiff is proud of his new position as the inspector of the Counterrorism Division.
“I feel honored and validated knowing that my bosses have the confidence and the belief in me to help out with the cause of making the city safe,” said Schiff.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose