West Side Welcomes New Precinct Commander

| 17 Feb 2015 | 01:05

Commander Marlon Larin introduces himself to the community, talks crime in the neighborhood

Upper West Side Police Commissioner Bill Bratton recently reassigned a half-dozen precinct commanders in jurisdictions that extend north of 86th Street as part of a sweeping reorganization that entailed over 60 management changes citywide.

Included in the shakeup was 24th Precinct Inspector Nancy Barry, who was promoted to a precinct in the Bronx, according to the 24th Precinct's Community Council President Tom Burnett. At her desk now sits Commander Marlon Larin, who introduced himself at a recent meeting with residents.

A 13-year veteran of the force, Larin's last post was as second-in-command of the 25th Precinct, which covers portions of East Harlem, where he grew up. Larin said under the progressive new mayor and commissioner ? Mayor Bill de Blasio did away with stop-and-frisk and Bratton disbanded the NYPD unit that spied on Muslims ? he's planning to foster a culture of respect for residents in the precinct.

"The mission of the 24th Precinct is the same mission that Inspector Barry was carrying?which is to carry on this department in a constitutional, respectful and compassionate manner," said Larin. "Those were the three words that were coined by the administration and that's something that we're looking to continue going forward."

Serious crimes do occur in the precinct, whose territory includes half of the Upper West Side from West 86th Street to West 110th Street. Crime statistics in the 24th tracked through April 6 of this year show an 82 percent increase in burglaries over the same period last year while felony auto thefts have jumped 125 percent. Grand larcenies have increased 13 percent.

Robberies are down 38 percent and felony assaults are down nine percent.

However, in one alarming case, a shot was fired from a .357 caliber handgun at Columbus Avenue and 95th Street during an April 11 altercation between rival "crews" from two nearby housing projects. The "Columbus Avenue Gunnerz," who are based out of the Douglass Houses on Columbus Avenue and West 104th Street, collided with "Money Comes First," who are from the Wise Towers further down on 91st Street.

Nobody was hurt in the incident, and the 24th Precinct happened to have an anti-crime unit already in the vicinity. Officers were able to arrest three minors who were involved on disorderly conduct charges and a fourth who had a previous warrant for jumping bail. The gun, however, was not recovered.

"There were no retaliatory acts over [last] weekend but it's something that we're still concerned about this weekend coming," said Larin.

Larin said these crews - so called because gangs tend to be older, smarter about their crimes and less transient in their allegiances - often make forays into enemy territory in an attempt to harass rival crew members who may be caught alone at the time. The groups are typically made up of no more than 15 individuals ranging in age from 13 to 16, said Larin.

In a different incident that Larin said demonstrates the cooperation between the community and police that already exists, a man was arrested for allegedly trying to pay three young girls to watch him masturbate in his car at Columbus Avenue and 105th Street. The girls, who attend the nearby West Prep Academy middle school, ran into the school and alerted the administration who immediately called an officer that was assigned to school safety. Police responded minutes later and arrested Nnamdi Ihim, 25, who was found sitting in his car at the same location.

"I wasn't even in command of the 24th Precinct yet but I had heard about [the incident]," said Larin. "It was just a great job done because obviously he was a sexual predator and it could have turned into something worse. These are the ties that the officers have established long before I even set foot in the [24th Precinct]."

When asked about priorities in the precinct, Larin deferred to his second-in-command.

"Pedestrian safety is our highest priority," said the Executive Officer, Captain James Dennedy.

Although accidents are down about nine percent overall, the 24th Precinct saw 36 pedestrian collisions this year compared to 21 in the same period last year, according to Dennedy.

"We're focusing our enforcement on summonses that we feel will best prevent pedestrian accidents," said Dennedy. "Failure to yield to pedestrians, we've written 168 summonses this year compared to 74 last year, that's a 127 percent increase."

Dennedy said the 24th Precinct has written 123 percent more summonses this year for improper turns and 38 percent more summonses for motorists running red lights. Tickets issued for speeding rose 160 percent while those given for texting rose 93 percent. The 24th now has 12 officers who are trained on the precinct's two radar guns to catch and ticket more speeders in the neighborhood, up from just five last year. The precinct is requesting more radar guns, said Dennedy.

Burnett of the 24th Precinct Community Council feels good about the choice of Larin for precinct commander, but predicts he won't be in the 24th for very long. "I think he's going to be extremely community oriented, which means he'll be a good listener," said Burnett. "But we tend to lose the good ones fast."