‘I think it’s important that I lead by example’: NYPD Chief of Dep’t Rodney Harrison talks about his new role

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JAMAICA, Queens — The title of NYPD chief of department may be new, but for Rodney Harrison, it’s a continuation of a job he’s been at for 29 years.

In his first one-on-one with PIX11 News since taking the position, he told us he’s starting his new job by strengthening policies and practices.

“I think it’s important that I lead by example,” he said.

He believes his policies are proven to work, including neighborhood policing. He wants to promote the program further going forward.

“Working with community members, identifying issues, working together is pretty much smart policing,” he said.

It’s that model that drives Harrison, who has seen the department and city change as he heads toward his fourth decade on the job. He most recently tackled a spike in gun violence and civil unrest, much of it directed at police.

It was a series of events that did nothing to ease tensions and led to a deep divide between police and the community, all in the middle of a pandemic.

“COVID kind of set us back,” he admitted. “We struggled with a lot of our community meetings, working with the communities we protect and serve. That’s something I want to push forward with.”

Harrison is the highest-ranking uniformed officer, previously serving as chief of detectives and chief of patrol.

“We’ve got some work to do, and it’s going to start with me going out there and meeting the different communities and identifying what can be done to make this a better city.”

At one point in his life growing up in Jamaica Queens, Harrison had a different perspective about law enforcement.

“I have had some experience where police officers I dealt with were unprofessional. But the way I shifted my mindset was I joined the cadet corps.”

And it was that shift that turned into a long term commitment not only to the community but to his police officers.

What are his priorities for the near and long-term?

“Going forward, officers’ safety, making sure I train all my officers and making sure they have the appropriate resources,” he said.

Harrison, who counts raising three daughters who went on to play college basketball with his wife as his greatest accomplishment, adds that recruitment itself is also a resource

“People that live in this city can definitely make a change and change the dynamic of this police department.”

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