WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Inspector Barry Buzzetti is leaving the 34th Precinct about two years after he was installed to combat rising crime uptown.
Buzzetti will be transferred to Patrol Borough Manhattan South as part of NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton's citywide shakeup of precinct leadership. Buzzetti announced his departure at a 34th Precinct Community Council meeting Wednesday night, saying he looked forward to the challenge of working in a new part of the city but would miss Washington Heights and Inwood.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t tell everyone that I’m going to miss this place tremendously,” he said.
The 34th Precinct will be led by Deputy Inspector Chris Morello, who previously served as the commanding officer of Police Service Area 5, which patrols public housing on the Upper East Side, Yorkville and East Harlem.
"He's a very good and competent police executive," Buzzetti said. "The place is going to be left in good hands."
Buzzetti arrived in the 34th precinct in August 2011 amid a crime wave that swept out previous commanding Officer Jose Navarro. Under Buzzetti's watch, murders, robberies, felony assaults, burglaries and car thefts all dropped from their 2011 numbers. Only one murder occurred in the precinct during all of 2013, compared to eight in 2011.
Residents and elected officials hailed Buzzetti Wednesday night for his service to the community.
"Inspector Barry Buzzetti is a dedicated and accessible public servant who served Washington Heights and Inwood with intelligence, energy and conviction," said state Sen. Adriano Espaillat. "The 34th Precinct's loss is Manhattan South's gain."
"I've been through a lot of commanding officers, but Buzzetti's one of the few real people," added Steven Feldheim, acting president of the precinct council. "He gave out his phone number at meetings. You don't see that a lot."
Doug Levy, a Washington Heights resident, also praised the outgoing commanding officer.
"He came here at a challenging time and worked really hard to build back trust," Levy said. "The relationship has improved, and hopefully the new commanding officer will be able to build on that."