Jamaica native Rodney Harrison chosen as NYPD’s first black Chief of Detectives

Photo by Mark Hallum

In one of his first official moves Police Commissioner Dermot Shea selected a fellow Queens native as his Chief of Detectives. Chief Rodney Harrison, who grew up in South Jamaica and graduated from Benjamin Cardozo High School in Bayside, was promoted from Chief of Patrol to become the first African-American to lead the NYPD’s detectives division.

Harrison began his career at the 114th Precinct in Astoria in 1992 and worked his way up to Chief of the Patrol Services Bureau where he has overseen the bureau’s Neighborhood Policing implementation.

“Serving as Chief of Patrol has been a tremendous privilege,” Harrison said. “Through Neighborhood Policing, we have transformed how the NYPD works with community members, grounded in building strong relationships of mutual respect, toward our shared mission of safety. Now, I’m humbled to become Chief of Detectives, a position I’ve always strived for, and will work tirelessly to build the strongest possible cases and bing those that commit crimes to justice.”

Shea, who was born and raised in Sunnyside, said Harrison brings “tremendous leadership experience” to his new position. During his first Crime Stats press conference Thursday, Harrison spoke of growing up in Jamaica, not far from where 14-year-old Aamir Griffin was shot and killed while playing basketball at the Baisley Park Houses in October.

Harrison grew up shooting hoops on the same basketball court where 14-year-old Aamir Griffin was shot and killed in October (Photo by Todd Maisel)

“I am from South Jamaica Queens. I lived there for 26 years,” Harrison said. “I grew up in the area where there were some issues, and there was a recent shooting that happened there with Aamir Griffin that kind of hits home for me. I know the investigation is pending right now, but that community has changed around, and just seeing some of the violence that I had to see growing up and now where they’re at now with the great work that they’re doing in the 113[th Precinct] and the investigative units to make that a safer community to me is remarkable.”

Griffin also attended Cardozo High School like Harrison, who spoke about gun violence especially among the youth of the city.

“I think it’s important that we get the neighborhood coordination officers plugged in a lot more with the community organizations, the community partners, to see if we can find a direction for these kids, to see if we can channel them out of these problematic crews and get them off the streets and make sure they are going to schools and make sure they are learning a skill set,” Harrison said. “I’m going to make sure, even in my new assignment, that this is something that’s going to be addressed regarding that relationship with the youth and making sure that we put ownership with the neighborhood coordination officers and making sure that they’re engaged in these kids that may be heading down the wrong direction.”

Meanwhile, the elected officials of southeast Queens will hold a resource expo to end gun violence Saturday, Dec. 7, from noon to 3 p.m. at the Robert Ross Family Life Center located a 172-17 Linden Blvd. in Jamaica. For more information call Tiffany Eason at 718-527-4356.