Retiring NYPD Chief of Department Rodney Harrison cleared the primary hurdle Thursday in turning into the primary Black commissioner of the Suffolk County Police Department after a key panel authorized his nomination.
The Suffolk County Legislature’s Public Safety Committee voted unanimously to approve Harrison’s affirmation because the division’s prime cop, advancing his nomination to the subsequent full assembly of the legislature on Tuesday. During his introductory listening to, lawmakers peppered Harrison with questions on how he’ll deal with police reforms, reverse an uptick in shootings, and restore public belief within the wake of current corruption scandals, amongst different points.
“I’ve at all times labored my tail off and when you give me the chance, I can assure you those self same efforts right here,” Harrison advised the committee, emphasizing that his prime 4 priorities are the reforms, transparency, accountability, and accessibility. In his 30-year NYPD profession, he grew to become the one member of the nation’s largest police division’s to rise from cadet to the highest of the chain of command.
Harrison would change Stuart Cameron, the appearing commissioner who has been operating the division since Geraldine Hart, a former FBI agent, stepped down in April. Cameron, who had been chief of the division, plans to retire on Jan. 3 after 37 years on the job. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone nominated Harrison, a married father of three from Baldwin who grew up in Queens, following a nationwide search.
Asked how he’ll reverse the pattern of shootings reportedly being up 23% this yr over 2020 as of September, Harrison mentioned he’ll ship extra police sources to the precincts during which most shootings happen, deploy anti-crime items, decide if there’s a motive that’s a standard denominator reminiscent of gangs or medicine, and associate with federal businesses to maintain illegal guns out of the county.
As for his function in enacting the county’s police reform plan that lawmakers handed earlier this yr within the wake of nationwide protests in opposition to police brutality, Harrison mentioned he’s reviewed the reforms and particularly helps officers sporting physique cameras, which all public-facing officers within the division will likely be required to put on beginning subsequent yr.
“I’m a giant fan of body-worn cameras,” he mentioned. “I do know not each officer could also be. But now we have to implement them.”
How he’ll fight corruption in Suffolk was a query requested repeatedly in the course of the listening to, which got here days after former Suffolk County District Attorney Tom Spota and Christopher McPartland, Spota’s ex-chief deputy and public corruption bureau chief, started serving 5 years in federal jail for being convicted of overlaying up civil rights violations. They had sought to thwart the investigation into James Burke, the previous Suffolk police chief, who additionally served federal jail time after being convicted of beating a handcuffed suspect arrested for stealing the then-chief’s bag of porn and intercourse toys, authorities have mentioned.
The most vocal on the topic was Suffolk Legislator Robert Trotta (R-Fort Salonga), a former Suffolk detective who was transferred out of the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force when Burke minimize ties with federal businesses in the course of the disgraced ex-chief’s reign.
“This place is a large number,” mentioned Trotta, additionally citing widespread reports that the Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association, the union that represents rank-and-file officers, has been allegedly violating marketing campaign finance legal guidelines with out consequence for years. “My query to you is, what are you gonna do to scrub it up?”
Harrison, noting that the inner affairs unit will report on to him to keep away from interference, replied: “I’m going to do what must be completed to make this a clear division.”
Republican legislators mentioned the GOP minority chief, who will have the majority within the New Year, expressed help for the Democratic county government’s nominee for the commissioner’s put up, indicating that Harrison will doubtless sail to affirmation subsequent week.