New commanding officer named at 40th Precinct

Deputy Inspector Brian Hennessy

Deputy Inspector Brian Hennessy

Former Queens precinct leader succeeds Carlos Valdez

For the third time in just over two years, there is new leadership in the 40th Precinct.

On June 21, Deputy Inspector Brian Hennessy was named to head the station house on Alexander Avenue, replacing DI Carlos Valdez, who was assigned to the post just last August.

Hennessy, 40, is an 18 year veteran of the NYPD who has spent his whole career in Queens, including recent assignments as commanding officer of the 108th and 115th precincts in Long Island City and Jackson Heights.

Mott Haven’s new commanding officer knows he will have his hands full. The number of murders committed in the 4-0 rose from four this time last year to nine so far this year. Robberies have skyrocketed from 144 to 227, while reports of felony assaults have leapt from 189 this time last year to 324 so far in 2016.

“We’re up in most crimes,” said Hennessy, adding that “shootings and robberies are driving crime. But we’re going to put programs in place to stabilize things.”

The new commander says it is unclear what is behind the big crime spike, but conceded “there are ongoing narcotics and gangs issues that will need to be addressed.”

At an anti-violence rally last Sunday in Melrose that was organized by parishioners from local churches, Hennessy told marchers that he is committed to working closely with the community. The grassroots group that called for the rally, South Bronx Churches, said it wants to see more police presence on local streets, and is urging NYPD to put more emphasis on community relations.

The new chief says he has hopes that the Neighborhood Community Officers initiative put in place earlier this year will help bring crime numbers down, though it hasn’t so far. The 40th Precinct deploys eight officers to different sectors of the neighborhood to see and be seen, in order to deter crime and ease tensions between police and residents.

At his Queens precincts, Hennessy established Community Fridays, calling on cops to meet residents on their streets and help resolve non-criminal concerns such as graffiti and abandoned cars. He hopes to implement a similar initiative in Mott Haven.

Though Hennessy has concentrated so far on meeting community leaders, like City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and officials at Lincoln Hospital, he said, “you don’t have to be a leader or an elected official to see me. I’m going to be out there meeting people on their blocks.”