Capt. Coleman’s mission possible

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The new commanding officer of the 10th Precinct is “happy to be back” in Chelsea


  • Commanding Officer Capt. Kevin J. Coleman, at the Nov. 28 meeting of the 10th Precinct Community Council. Photo: Scott Stiffler

“The public needs to see you as legitimate. If we have a robbery or homicide, we need the victim or complainant to cooperate. We need witnesses. If they distrust us or don’t see us as legitimate, they’re less likely to help us. We’re more effective when we have positive relationships.”

Commanding Officer Capt. Kevin J. Coleman, 10th Precinct

Commanding Officer Captain Kevin J. Coleman was recently assigned the top leadership position at Chelsea’s 10th Precinct — but he’s not an unfamiliar presence. The 15-year NYPD veteran called this neighborhood home for several years, in the early 2000s.

“I loved living in Chelsea,” said the former West 30th St. resident. “So I’m happy to be back. There are a lot of people who were born here, who are still living here, and that’s a really solid foundation of community.”

Coleman spoke with Straus News last week, during which he noted, “I’m really into the public service aspect of being a police officer. My career is about helping the people of New York City — keeping them safe, responding to them in times of crisis.”

That career began in 2003, when Coleman’s first assignment out of the police academy found him as a cop at the West Village’s Sixth Precinct, where he spent four years. Attaining the rank of sergeant, he’d spend four more years at the 25th Precinct in East Harlem, and then return to the police academy, as an academic instructor. In July of 2013, he “made lieutenant and went to the Bronx, the 43rd Precinct. I was there two years as a platoon commander,” he said, leading and managing an entire shift of police officers. “From there,” Coleman recalled, “I took an 11-month leave of absence and, under a scholarship, I went to the John F. Kennedy School of Government, and completed a masters in public administration.” While at Harvard, he advanced to the rank of captain, returning for a two-year stint as the executive officer of the 52nd Precinct — which brings us to Chelsea.

Now, as a first-time commanding officer, Coleman is determined to use the “great autonomy” he’s been given to assist the pubic, deploy resources, and support the precinct’s police officers — to whom he gives credit for driving down crime since his arrival.

“When I came to the precinct in July,” he said, at Nov. 28’s installment of the monthly Community Council meeting, “overall crime was “up 12.2 percent [from 2017]. Now we’re up 5.3 percent ... We’re down in robberies [11 percent] and burglaries [five percent]. Grand larceny is the real driver of crime in this precinct, 659 year-to-date.” (At this time last year, it was 595.)

Readers of this publication’s Crime Watch will be familiar with larceny incidents, at area nightclubs, restaurants, and cafes. Coleman said he understands the predilection to think, “because it’s Chelsea, I can leave my stuff here and use the restroom, and it’s going to be okay. And that doesn’t always work out ... While you’re looking at your phone, someone else might be eyeing it and thinking, ‘Hey, that’s $800 or $1,000 for me,’ and watching to see if you put your phone down. They see it as something they can sell.”

Although Coleman emphasized his desire “to increase public safety and lower crime as best I can,” he said his “main mission is to build relationships with the public. I’m doing my best to implement the Police Commissioner’s and the department’s new philosophy of neighborhood policing — to ensure the cops understand it, and embrace it.”

That form of policing — described by the NYPD as a “comprehensive crime-fighting strategy built on improved communication and collaboration between local police officers and community residents” — is set to become policy, citywide, in 2019. But several of its signature elements have already been implemented in Chelsea.

Established in 2017, the NCO (Neighborhood Coordination Officers) program has two liaison officers assigned to three sectors, following up on quality of life complaints, and holding quarterly Build the Block meetings. For details, call the Community Affairs office, at 212-741-8226. Coleman also wants the public to know they can call or email their NCO officers directly.

The effects of neighborhood policing are also being felt, he noted, by dedicating a period “off-radio time” within each day’s three patrol shifts. “Traditionally,” he said, “the patrol offices are answering 911 and 311 calls all day. Now we have this block of uncommitted time, where, for about 2 hours and 40 minutes, they’re following up with complaints, meeting with the community, and making sure they have a relationship there — so when a crisis situation does happen, they’re not meeting people for the first time.”

For the police to function properly, Coleman observed, “the public needs to see you as legitimate. If we have a robbery or homicide, we need the victim or complainant to cooperate. We need witnesses. If they distrust us or don’t see us as legitimate, they’re less likely to help us. We’re more effective when we have positive relationships.”

To that end, Coleman acknowledged there’s more work to be done, in terms of first contact. “I will continue to do that,” he said. “It’s a large community, and I’m going to continue to meet people and different organizations, going into 2019.”

The 10th Precinct is located at 230 West 20th St. (between Seventh & Eighth Aves.). Call 212-741-8211. On Twitter: @NYPD10Pct. On Facebook: The next Community Council meeting is Wed., Dec. 19, 7 p.m., at the precinct.

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