SOUTH BRONX — The new commanding officer of the 40th Precinct hopes to crack down on a surge in violence that the area has seen this year while also strengthening ties between the police department and the community.
Hennessy spent his entire career with the NYPD in Queens before coming to the South Bronx, most recently as the commanding officer of the 115th Precinct in Jackson Heights, but he said he has not seen many differences yet between the two boroughs and that both are filled with people who want to improve their communities.
"It seems to be similar, you know what I mean?" he said. "The community cares. They’re involved, and I look forward to working with them."
Although he maintained that the 40th and 115th Precincts face similar issues with crime as well, such as gangs and narcotics, he acknowledged that the overall frequency of violence was higher in The Bronx.
The 40th Precinct had seen nine murders and 13 shootings this year as of June 26, for instance, while the 115th Precinct had seen zero murders and four shootings, according to NYPD statistics.
Crime has gone up significantly since last year as of June 26 in most categories in the 40th Precinct, statistics show, and Hennessy said that keeping on top of this violence would be a top priority and the biggest challenge facing the command.
"The gun violence and the homicides and the shootings, it's something that I look forward to developing plans to try to reduce," he said.
He plans to focus on building strong ties between the precinct and the community as well.
"I read the reports," he said, "but it’s more important to speak to the people and hear from them what are the issues on their streets and in front of their businesses."
In Queens, Hennessy had a program that he called Community Fridays where officers would go out every Friday and work with residents to solve issues that had been troubling them, ranging from gang graffiti to lampposts with advertisements for apartments for rent.
He would now like to get this type of program going in The Bronx.
"As opposed to enforcement, enforcement, enforcement, it was more of what can we do to help," Hennessy said. "We’re here to help you. Let’s do it together."
Hennessy is the third new NYPD officer to take charge of a South Bronx precinct this season. Capt. Louis DeCeglie has taken over at the 41st Precinct, while Deputy Inspector Martine Materasso has taken over at the 44th Precinct.
Hennessy said he was most excited to get to know the community better and learn more about who lives in the neighborhoods.
“I could tell you all the statistics in the world," Hennessy said, "but if you don’t know me, and I don’t know you, and I’m not helping you, then how good am I really policing you?”