New 100 Precinct CO Not A Rockaway Newcomer
When Captain Tom Barrett moved from the executive officer's slot at the 103 Precinct in Jamaica at the end of last month, to his new office in the 100 Precinct house in Rockaway Beach, it was something of a homecoming for the long-time cop.
"There is something about working in Rockaway that you've got to love," Barrett told The Wave in a long interview on Wednesday. "This is a different place to work, usually a fun place to work."
Barrett should know.
For a few years, until housing costs caught up to him, he lived in the west end of Rockaway, before moving to Long Island, where he lives today with his wife of 22 years, his college-aged son and his daughter, who is a high school senior.
As a NYPD officer, however, he spent much more time in Rockaway.
He first served Rockaway as a young officer in 1985, as part of its summer detail of police officers who work the beach and boardwalk. Soon after, he was assigned to the 101 Precinct in Far Rockaway, first on patrol and then detailed as a SPECDA officer, in an anti-drug program that brought police into the schools to discuss the drug problem with sixth-grade students. He worked at IS 53 in Far Rockaway and in other District 27 schools on the peninsula.
"That was good, because it gave me a chance to speak with young people about drug use before they got involved with using hard drugs," he said.
From there, Barrett was appointed as the precinct's youth officer, with responsibility not only for the local schools, but with working with gangs, as well.
From 1989, when he was promoted to sergeant, until 1993, when he reurned to Rockaway, this time in the 100 Precinct, Barrett served in the 73 Precinct in Brownsville, Brooklyn.
At the 100 Precinct, Barrett was one of the Community Policing Unit sergeants, responsible for a new program that was started around that time. The program, an attempt to be proactive on the crime front, put CPU officers in community beats, working with residents to cut down on crime and reduce "quality of life" problems.
In late 1997, he was promoted to Lieutenant and moved to the 109 Precinct in northern Queens, where he trained new police officers and did mostly administrative work.
In 1999, however, his workload grew proportionately when he was appointed to the School Safety Division as a lieutenant and then as its Queens Commander, when he was promoted to captain in March of 2002.
In that position, Barrett says, he spent lots of time in Rockaway addressing problems at both Far Rockaway and Beach Channel High Schools.
Then came his quick stint at the XO in Jamaica and his appointment as CO of the 100 Precinct.
Barrett, who has a BA from Manhattan College and an MSW from Fordham University, says that he will not be quick to make changes in the local precinct.
"I want to get the lay of the land first," he said. "Captain Neacy put lots of strategies in place that have reduced index crimes in the precinct, and I'm going to continue them for the time being."
"I'm not one to make changes just for change's sake," he said.
He added that felony assaults and grand larceny auto are two crimes that seem to be on the rise in the precinct, albeit not by much. He plans to address that small rise in crime statistics "aggressively."
On the whole, however, index crime, those crimes tracked by the federal government, are down. In fact, the precinct is one of the lowest in terms of raw statistics in the city over the last month, a statistic tracked by the city's CompStat program.
Barrett says that he wants to make Rockaway an even better, safer community for people to live in.
"If anybody has an idea that will improve the community, and it's not a question of their own self-interest, then I'm interested in working with them," he said.
Barrett said that he wanted to thank Chief Thomas Dale, the Commanding Officer of Patrol Borough Queens South, for his assistance in having him appointed to Rockaway, a place where he says he "would rather be precinct CO than anywhere else in the city."
And, he hopes to be around for a while.
"I have no plans to retire," he said. "Not with kids in college or about to enter college. Besides, this is just where I want to be."