Bronx neighborhood coordination officer connects with community, is promoted

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MORRISAINA, Bronx — When 5-year-old Jaheen Hunter​ was shot in the head on Washington Avenue in June,  one of the first people his father called was not a family member.

It was was Officer Fred Washington of the NYPD's 42nd Precinct, said Terence Monahan, the NYPD's Chief of Patrol.

"The community members, they reach out to him they trust him.​ It's what neighborhood policing is all about, trusting your cop to give them information," Monahan said.

Washington’s deep connection to the community helped cops make a swift arrest in the case.

The 12-year veteran is a neighborhood coordination officer,  which is the NYPD's brand new policing model. It's designed to bring cops closer to the communities they serve.

"Just going around meeting new people everyday is just bringing the community together," said Washington.

At the start of the NCO program, Officer Washington and his partner, Officer Jose Cabo-Grillo, met with business owners.

"Everyone was making complaints that they couldn’t park their cars around these businesses [on Courtlandt Ave] so we ended up cleaning up this whole area here," Cabo-Grillo said.

"How’s the parking?," Cabo-Grillo asked a business owner.

"Peaceful since you guys set it up, it’s good, no problem at all," the man replied.

It’s work these officers would not have had the time to do as sector cops, responding to 911 calls.

"They would have been driven by the radio and our cops were very specialized. So, a cop would only deal with quality of life issues, they would only deal with school issues, they would only deal with drugs issues," Monahan said.

"Now our cop is a generalist, everything that happens in his little area. He’s like the the little mayor, the little sheriff of that area."

NCO's are equipped with NYPD issued cellphones and e-mails and make an effort to give people they interact with their numbers.

Weeks ago, Washington's phone rang. It was the owner of Africa United Auto, one of several auto repair and shipping shops in their sector.

The owner said people were parking across the street from the shops and they weren't able to move cars out.

Working together, the officers worked with the owner to petition the Department of Transportation to have "No Standing Anytime" signs installed.

Within days the cars were gone.

NCO's are charged with leading their own community meetings, unlike the model that still exists at the city's 77 precincts citywide, where precinct commanders lead community council meetings.

"The first one 203 people came out, the second one it was amazing turnout - 318 people came out," said Washington.

"That’s absolutely outstanding, that’s how we’re going to continue to make this community safe," said Police Commissioner James O'Neill.

And for those efforts, Washington was promoted to the rank of detective on Tuesday. ​

As a patrol officer, Washington made over 300 arrests.

"He's a very humble person. He understands what the role is. His job is to help the community. He’s not looking to be a superstar," said Monahan.