Nov. 6, 2014 By Christian Murray
The commanding officer of the 108 Police Precinct—which covers Sunnyside, Woodside & Long Island City—has been transferred to head up a larger more crime-ridden Queens precinct.
Captain Brian Hennessy, who has spent just 18 months as the commanding officer of the 108, started today as the commanding officer of the 115th Precinct, which covers Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst and the north section of Corona.
That precinct is larger and has more problems–such as gang activity, prostitution and drugs. The move represents a promotion, since gaining experience in a tougher precinct is often viewed as the way captains climb up the NYPD ladder.
While the 108 has had some high-profile crimes recently—such as the robbery of an 81-year old at a Chase ATM and a wave of burglaries in Sunnyside—the precinct is still viewed as a low-crime area.
The crime rate—based on the number of reports—is flat so far this year, compared to the same period in 2013. The number of murders and reported rapes are down—although the number of burglaries are up about 7 percent.
Hennessy said he enjoyed his time at the 108 Precinct.
“I love this community and its leaders,” Hennessy said. “There are so many people who care and want to get involved,” he said. “It was an honor to be there.”
The NYPD has yet to appoint a new commanding officer. In the interim, Capt. Richard Hellman, the executive officer of the 108th Precinct, is in command.
However, Hennessy’s short stint did disappoint many—since most commanding officers stay at a precinct for two-to-three years.
“I am very upset that he is leaving us so soon,” said Diane Ballek, the president of the 108 Community Council.
“He is the best captain we have had in a long time,” Ballek said. “If you needed to reach him he was always there,” she said. “He would talk to people [with quality-of-life issues] for an hour some times.”
His predecessor Capt. Donald Powers was viewed by many as less responsive and not so much of a people-person, several people said.
“I am disappointed [that Capt. Hennessy has been transferred] since I believe he was doing a good job,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. “I appreciated working with him and thought he was responsive and a straight shooter who cared about our neighborhood.”
Van Bramer said he would be asking NYPD officials whether Hennessy’s short stint represents a new policy or whether what happened was an anomaly.
Van Bramer also said he wants a new commanding officer to be named soon. “We cannot have a prolonged absence of leadership,” he said.