Neacy Settles In As 100 Precinct’s New Commander
Captain Charles “Butch” Neacy replaced Deputy Inspector Paul Piekarski only days before the busy July Fourth weekend kicked off – a move that surprised many in-the-know locals and Neacy himself.
“I got here just in the thick of things,” Neacy told The Wave during a sit-down interview in his office last week. “I’m jumping in with both feet and hitting the ground running,” he said.
The promotion may spell disaster for Neacy’s vacation plans for later this summer, but, by all accounts, the Fourth of July weekend went smoothly in terms of police enforcement and emergencies in Rockaway.
“It went well, overall,” Neacy said. “We did have a good presence of police [on the beach], and that helps stem a lot of things.”
Neacy, it seems, has adopted Piekarski’s approach to beach enforcement. It boils down, he said, to a single word: reasonable.
“You have to be fair and reasonable about things,” he said.
When I arrived at his office, Neacy, who is married and has a 16-year-old son, was sitting at a table to the side of his desk. Two thick binders were spread out in front of him.
A glimpse of the commanding officer’s office always gives clues about the person who occupies it. Talamo had a “Beach Rules” sign prominently displayed; Piekarski had a “heroes” flag and a department medal for valor; Neacy, who enjoys 35mm photography, is decorating with his own framed black and white prints of New York City landmarks.
For the fellow photography buffs out there, he shoots with a Canon Elan (film) and has his own darkroom at home. Lately, he has been scanning his negatives and doing touchup on the computer.
But the open binders resting in front of him did not contain work prints or Tri-X 400 negatives, it was CompStat numbers, which create a different image in black and white.
“Everything that happens in the command is digested in this book,” Neacy said.
The bad news is there is a spike in robberies compared to this time last year; the good news is that police quickly spotted a pattern and locked up several men who are charged with committing some of those robberies.
“Overall,” he said making a general observation, “the command runs pretty good.
“I’m still getting up to speed,” he admitted as he fielded numerous phone calls and visitors to his office.
This assignment is a new challenge for the 23-year NYPD veteran. Neacy, described as both “highly decorated” and as a “rising star,” comes fresh from the Cold Case and Apprehension Squad, where he supervised between 30 and 40 detectives – city-wide – who would re-investigate homicides.
The first question in deciding if revisiting a homicide is warranted is, “Does it have legs?” said Neacy. In other words, can this investigation go anywhere?
If it has legs, detectives set out to develop leads, reexamine forensic evidence and re-interview witnesses. Often, time can help because people’s relationships change. “People open up when they’re no longer friends,” he explained.
Neacy found his year and a half tracking cold cases both frustrating and rewarding, and, of course, very different from the portrayals on the hit television shows. He described the work as being “very slow, very tedious.” Often a step forward was soon followed by a setback. In the end, however, solving a cold case is “satisfying” because it gives the victim’s family closure.
The 100 Precinct is very different from Cold Case and Neacy’s other NYPD experience, which as been in some of the city’s busiest commands. The 100 Precinct is by no means considered busy, but Neacy is by no means using that as an excuse to rest on his laurels. He has been using his time to get acquainted with community leaders, learn the lay of the land and track Rockaway criminals who were recently released from jail.
Neacy, who described the community as “pro-police,” seems keen on maintaining the strong relationship with the community that Piekarski built during his tenure, perhaps because he is going to be here for a while.
“This job has been good to me and my family,” said the man who earned the nickname “Butch” from his father when he was 1-year-old, “I have no intention of leaving.”