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New Leader of Crown Heights Precinct Aims to be 'Responsive and Available'

 Deputy Inspector Norman Grandstaff is now the commanding officer of the 71st Precinct in Crown Heights, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens and East Flatbush.
Deputy Inspector Norman Grandstaff is now the commanding officer of the 71st Precinct in Crown Heights, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens and East Flatbush.
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DNAinfo/Rachel Holliday Smith

CROWN HEIGHTS — For Deputy Inspector Norman Grandstaff, the 71st Precinct’s brand-new commanding officer, policing is a “family business,” he said.

“Three out of my four brothers are police officers,” all of them in Brooklyn, he said in a meeting last week with local reporters following his appointment as the precinct’s leader. “We’re pretty proud of that.”

Grandstaff comes from the 69th Precinct, which he led for two years after serving half a dozen other city precincts, mostly in Brooklyn, over more than 17 years on the force; he has worked in the 79th, 70th, 88th, 90th and 75th precincts before his most recent position in the Canarsie area.

At the 69th precinct, he said he “worked really, really well with the community,” which he described as “hard-working” with a large West Indian population — a similarity with the 71st Precinct that will make the transition a bit easier.

“We all want the same thing. We want a better, a safer 71st Precinct,” he said. “We want a better quality of life for everyone who lives here, works here, prays here, goes to school here. Whatever brings you here, we’re here for you.”

Grandstaff said he aims to be “responsive and available” to precinct residents in southern Crown Heights, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens and East Flatbush, leaning on the precinct’s veteran community affairs team — including Detective Vincent Martinos, officers Frank Bulzoni and Larry Taylor and Sergeant Alfred Kelley — which he described as “excellent.”

“I’ve been in maybe seven different precincts and I’ve known these guys for a week — [and] I know I’m a good judge of character — it’s not even close. Those guys are completely at the top of that list. I will put them against any community affairs officers in the city,” he said.

He also praised the precinct’s previous leader, Inspector George Fitzgibbon, for leaving the command in great shape, crime-wise. In particular, he highlighted the fact that shootings have dropped to 17 so far this year from 29 during the same period in 2015, a 41 percent drop.

“I inherited a really well-run precinct. Crime is on the downturn here,” he said.

Overall, major crimes are down 14.6 percent in the precinct since last year, according to NYPD statistics, including a 34.6 percent drop in robberies and a 22.2 percent drop in burglaries.

But to Grandstaff, that doesn’t mean his work is done.

“I think the natural progression in the police department when you go from one precinct to the next [is] you go up,” he said. “You go to a busier place, you go to a more challenging place, you go to a more demanding place. I think that’s very true of this precinct, so I look forward to those challenges.”