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OTP Q & A: With Judith Harrison, Borough Commander for Patrol Brooklyn North, NYPD

Judith Harrison

A lot of folks don’t understand what your title entails and the kind of skills you need to be there. So, could you give us a picture of what your Monday morning would look like and then your Monday afternoon?

Chief Judith Harrison: As Borough Commander for Patrol Borough of Brooklyn North, I am responsible to oversee everything that occurs in 10 precincts. I won’t give you the precinct numbers but geographically we go from Cypress Hills in East New York into Brownsville, into Bushwick, Bedford Stuyvesant, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, the downtown area. As well as Greenpoint and Williamsburg.
So I’m responsible for overseeing the operation of 10 precincts, My Monday morning starts before I even get into the office. The first thing I do when I get out of bed, is I look at my phone and go through my emails And I go through all notifications so that I have an idea of what has happened.
Actually, I’m getting notified pretty much throughout the night if there are any major occurrences. Any shooting incidents, any stabbing incidents, any incidents that would be newsworthy, anything that I would have to address.
So I get up, I read through my emails I red through my notifications, and that pretty much dictates how my day starts. When I go in on Monday morning, I read through complaint reports to get an idea of all the things that have happened. Any robberies, burglaries, shootings, any thing of major concern that would affect the residents that live within the confines of Brooklyn North, or would affect the business owners or anyone that comes in to visit Brooklyn North. So that’s pretty much how I start my day.
I start my day everyday like that. Getting an idea of what has happened. Anything I need to do, any people I need to contact, anything major, I’m communicating with the Borough President, I’m communicating with DA Gonzales, I’m communicating with key stakeholders and of course I’m communicating with my staff. My precinct commanders. I’ve got some great precinct commanders that really care about the community. So just making sure they are on task and serving the community to the best of their ability.

And what about the afternoon?
Even today (Sunday), I’m going to go in. You’re constantly reading, constantly keeping abreast of what’s happening. You can’t play catchup. You lose a day, you lose a lot. You can’t play catchup. You have to stay immersed in it. To always insure you’re doing to the best of your abilities.
And your communications with the community? How do you fit that into your schedule?
I think that’s probably one of the most important things. So many things happen and people look to the police. But police, and I know certainly I, leverage my relationships with key stakeholders. And those people are members of the community, they’re members of faith-based organizations, whether they’re bishops or clergy liaison. They are local elected officials, an assemblywoman or anyone of that nature, it’s very important to have that communication.
So I’m very open, we have a Whatsapp Chat with several community stakeholders and anytime there’s a shooting, I let them know what’s going on in their communities, because obviously, they live there, they want to know.
Not only letting them know what’s happening there but letting them know what our plans are. What we plan to do. What we want to do. How we plan to combat crime. It’s very important to keep communications open and to have a partnership with people.
I’ve spoken with several members of block associations and if you live there on the block and Covid has you restricted in terms of your movement and you’re there all the time. There may be things that you see that I don’t see. There may be different pieces of information that we can use to follow up on to help solve things, so we have to communicate.

As a mother, what concerns do you share with others?
Thankfully, I don’t have small children. My children are working, and are doing their own thing. And when we get time to spend together it’s great. I raised my children in New York City, I was raised in New York City, so I don’t just work here, I live here still, I’ve always live here so I have a vested interest in what goes on in the city.
I have a one-year-old grandson, and several weeks ago there were four people shot in Bedford Stuyvesant and one of the four was a one-year-old baby, Davell Garner. I heard about it. I immediately jumped up out of bed. I went to the hospital where the baby was. I was there, and when they cleaned the baby up, and allowed the baby’s parents family to see him, in my mind I said “don’t do it.” But I wanted to see him and when I saw him, I saw my grandson. So, I immediately made that connection that it’s such a shared responsibility.
Raising children here, raising grandchildren here, I see similarities. It’s heartbreaking what I see people doing to each other. There’s really a need for police. I know there’s talk about defunding us, but we really need to be out there because we owe it to every person. We know that there’s a small amount of people that’s responsible for these crazy acts that are taking people out. The overwhelming number of people are good, honest, hardworking people. Law abiding folks and we owe it to them to make the streets safe for them.

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