By Eric Adams
Inspector Timothy Pearson stood in front of the barber shop and looked over the crime scene for any evidence that may have been overlooked by the detectives. It was only hours earlier that a career criminal’s body lay dead on the same side walk from a single shot to the chest from a police officer’s gun.
Reports indicated that the deceased had just performed a gun point robbery of a patron in the barber shop. He then left the establishment and was confronted by two uniformed police officers. After a reported confrontation, the armed career criminal was shot and killed.
It was only days earlier that Inspector Pearson sat in one of the barber chairs and received his weekly hair cut. His mind allowed him to go back to the incident involving an off-duty police officer who found herself involved in a shoot out with armed robbers while she was in her hair salon. As he observed the curious onlookers, he saw many familiar faces and it reinforced why he spent so much time in the Fort Greene-Clinton Hill community where the 88th Precinct is located. The assignment is more than a nine to fiver. It is an obsession to bring a level of normality to a community that has known its share of crime and violence.
Many of the onlookers knew him by first name and was happy to see an African-American man in such a prestigious rank in the New York City Police Department. He understood that with the title of Inspector (and Black man), came an awesome responsibility to ensure fairness and justice–something that has often alluded residents of minority communities. This task is even more difficult when you have a full understanding of the financial and ethnic demographics of the community he is responsible for. Fort Greene and Clinton Hill have homeowners with million dollar properties standing side by side with families that are on pubic assistance. This mixture of have and have nots often bring about a violences and conflict.
Inspector Pearson’s 12 hour days have paid off and the result is that he has prevented those conflicts from taking place. He would be the first to tell you that much of his success has little to do with crime fighting and more to do with caring. He cared enough to self fund and run several youth summer programs in his precinct while the city was cutting these much needed services. A significant number of children participated in his summer time daily organized events. These deeds were similar to what he did in East New York Brooklyn, when he was the commanding officer of Housing Public Service Area 2.
Even critics of the community policing concept will have to agree that Inspector Pearson’s proactive style of approaching public safety paid off during the investigation into the case involving the armed gun man who was shot by the police in front of the barber shop. This was due to the fact that when backup police officers responded, no one was able to locate the gun that the assailant was supposed to have been carrying.
The absence of a gun in any other precinct would have been cause for many in the community to call for an investigation into possible police brutality. This was not the case here. The detectives in charge of investigating the case stated that they could not get enough help from community residents, who volunteered first-hand accounts of the case and gave information relating to what happened to the missing gun. Many of the witnesses clearly indicated their willingness to come forward which had a lot to do with their deep trust and respect for Inspector Pearson.
That respect has turned into respectable decreases in the seven major crime categories. These are national indicators that are used to determine the safety of a given area. Inspector Pearson style of policing has also helped to bridge the gap between the police department and the community that they are sworn to serve and protect. It is clear that because of this a possible frontpage controversial police shooting became a back page success story of the police and public working together to solve a crime.
Let us hope one day our city will reach the point where these forms of cooperation for public safety will also be worthy of breaking news headlines.