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Experienced Gang, Narcotics Investigator Takes Helm of South Bronx Precinct

By Eddie Small | August 3, 2015 2:08pm
 This is Ryan's first assignment in The Bronx, and he said he was excited to come work in the borough.
This is Ryan's first assignment in The Bronx, and he said he was excited to come work in the borough.
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DNAinfo/Eddie Small

MORRISANIA — Captain James Ryan only started working at the 42nd Precinct a week ago, but he already likes what he sees.

"I met the community here, and it was just great," said Ryan, who recently took over as commanding officer of the precinct from Deputy Inspector Steven Ortiz. "I mean, there was so much positive energy, so many people who are involved in the community and care about it, [are] actively involved in it, so to me, that was very, very promising of what we can do here."

Ryan comes to the South Bronx after spending more than two years in Brooklyn, where he was the commanding officer of the 94th Precinct, which covers the borough's Williamsburg and Greenpoint neighborhoods.

Before that, he led the Queens gang squad, worked as a narcotics investigator and served as a supervisor in the detective squad throughout his more than 21 years of service with the NYPD. This will be his first assignment in The Bronx, and he said he was happy to have arrived in his new borough.

"It’s an exciting time for me to utilize all the skills and experience that I’ve had with policing and working with the community to make this—to continue to make this—a safe area for all," he said.

Ortiz has moved downtown to the Chief of Department's office, where he is overseeing the citywide community partnership program as well as the Ceasefire Initiative in Brooklyn, which aims to reduce gang violence.

The neighboring 40th Precinct recently received a new commanding officer as well, with Deputy Inspector Carlos Valdez taking over for Deputy Inspector Lorenzo Johnson in the wake of 19 officers at the precinct being disciplined for misreporting crime statistics.

The main distinction between the 42nd Precinct and the 94th Precinct is the higher level of violence in the South Bronx, Ryan said.

As of July 26 this year, the 42 had seen several more rapes, robberies, felony assaults and shootings than the 94, while the 94 had seen more burglaries and grand larcenies.

"Shootings here are a lot more than they are in the 94," Ryan said. "There was more property crime there than street violence. That’s the biggest difference."

Combating this violence will be one of Ryan's top priorities, and he plans to focus on doing so by targeting youth crews, citing the squad's bust of the Lyman Place Bosses under Ortiz as the type of activity he would like to continue.

"That’s our number one concern, is to make it a safe place to walk down the street with your family and your kids and not have to be in fear of being a victim," he said.

Ryan said he was most proud of the relationship he had with the community at his old assignment in Brooklyn and would miss the friends and people he met there.

He hoped to develop a similar relationship with the community in the South Bronx.

"If it’s a problem for you at 2 in the morning, 4 in the morning, it’s a problem for me," he said.