YAPHANK, NY — Rodney Harrison traveled 60 miles east from One Police Plaza in downtown Manhattan to make historical past as the primary Black police commissioner of Suffolk County.
A veteran crime fighter who’s finished undercover narcotics investigations and labored on constructing neighborhood policing, Harrison is beginning his third week on the job– hoping to inspire different women and men “who appear like me.”
“Recruitment and variety on this group wants to get higher,” Harrison, 52, instructed PIX11 News at his new workplace in Yaphank. “The quantity is 75 Black police officers in a division that has 2,500.”
But Harrison is excess of problems with race as he takes on an necessary problem after three many years within the NYPD, the place he rose by means of the ranks from cadet to chief of department.
He’s inheriting some of the well-known, unsolved crime mysteries within the United States, a case that began at Gilgo Beach in 2010. The assassin nonetheless stays elusive, 11 years after the invention of lifeless escort employees on Ocean Parkway, and is thought because the Long Island Serial Killer, or LISK. Body components of the earliest-known victims have been discovered on the shores of Davis Park in Fire Island in 1996.
“I’m feeling assured that we’re getting nearer to making an arrest,” Harrison instructed PIX11 News. “I’ll say there’s been a whole lot of turns in numerous instructions,” he stated of the case.
We met Harrison in the identical constructing the place James Burke used to name the photographs as Suffolk County chief of division till his 2015 arrest for assaulting a housebreaking suspect. The suspect had stolen a bag of intercourse toys and porn tapes from Burke’s official police automobile. Burke served about 4 years in jail. Commissioner Harrison stated hypothesis tying Burke to the Gilgo case does a disservice to a posh investigation.
“I can reassure everyone that there’s no coverup on this case,” Harrison stated.
When we requested the commissioner if a hoop of individuals may very well be linked to the unsolved murders, he stated “probably, probably.”
Former Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota additionally went to jail for serving to to cowl up Burke’s assault. Now, there’s a brand new DA on the town, and Commissioner Harrison instructed PIX11 News he used to work on NYPD gang circumstances with that man, Ray Tierney, when Tierney was a Brooklyn prosecutor.]
“I feel my partnership with Ray Tierney, in addition to bringing the FBI on board, goes to convey closure to these incidents,” Harrison stated of the serial homicide case.
At least 10 victims have been tied to the killer or killers, though some imagine the variety of victims is 17 or greater.
Harrison and Tierney additionally know they’ve a gang downside in Suffolk County, with the ruthless MS-13 group energetic in Brentwood and members of the Bloods working in different areas. Harrison talked about Wyandanch and Central Islip as locations the place they’d be monitoring gang exercise.
“We’re going to be coming after them with precision policing,” Harrison stated, “coming after the suitable people.”
Harrison’s chief of workers is retired NYPD Lieutenant Gracia Herdsman, and considered one of his new deputy commissioners is Anthony Carter, who as soon as supervised Harrison’s workplace at One Police Plaza.
Carter will likely be tasked with overseeing the Suffolk Police Reform Plan, which requires officers to be fitted with physique cameras.
“He’s going to be very instrumental in implementing the reform plan,” Commissioner Harrison stated of Carter.
At current, only some Suffolk County cops are sporting physique cameras, as a part of a pilot program.
Suffolk County has 10 cities and half of them have their very own police departments, however Harrison’s division takes a lead function when main crimes like homicides occur. There are seven precincts in Suffolk that fall inside Harrison’s jurisdiction.
“There will likely be govt accountability boards,” Commissioner Harrison stated, “the place we’ll be bringing in commanding officers, holding the executives accountable,” and seeing “what we are able to study from one another.”
PIX11 News adopted Harrison as he visited the Suffolk County Police Academy in Brentwood for the primary time, greeting a category of recruits and asking what number of have been former NYPD police officers.
Plenty of recruits raised their fingers. Earlier, within the hallway, the Academy’s Commanding Officer, Deputy Inspector John Hanley, and Executive Officer, Captain Steven Rohde, stated of ex-NYPD cops, “We ask them to be a part of this group.
Harrison’s spouse is a retired NYPD Lieutenant, and two of his three daughters are actually NYPD police officers. The commissioner stated he had some upsetting encounters with NYPD cops as a Black adolescent rising up in Jamaica, Queens. But he credit his father, a retired bus driver, for giving him an open thoughts about policing.
“My father was the one who who pushed me into regulation enforcement, so I’m very proud,” Harrison stated.
The commissioner’s mom is a nurse.
Regarding the five-star defend that he now wears on his belt, Harrison added, “I’m very humbled to be a pioneer, to be the primary, black Police Commissioner of this county.”
“It’s all about serving to individuals, defending individuals,” he stated.
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