BY JOE MARVILLI
The police captain of the 112th precinct has a new assignment as the Commanding Officer of the 109th precinct.
Captain Thomas Conforti has taken over as the head of the 109th precinct, an area that covers Flushing, Queensboro Hill, College Point, Whitestone, Beechhurst and Bay Terrace. He replaces Inspector Brian Maguire, who has a new assignment in the Narcotics Bureau.
Conforti built up a positive reputation at the 112th precinct, which he presided over for a two-year period free of murders or shootings. The area, which covers Forest Hills and Rego Park, also had some of the lowest robbery and grand theft auto statistics in modern times. He said that the 109th has similar challenges as the 112th, but on a larger scale.
“If you go back to my history in the 112th, especially the Twitter history, you’re going to see the crimes are very similar, except this precinct is five to six times larger,” he said. “I saw in the 112th that we made a difference by getting out there and speaking to the people and making people understand how to not become a victim. By doing the same exact thing in this community, it’s going to have the same benefits.”
Community outreach plays a significant role in Conforti’s leadership style. During his time at the 112th, he became known for his active use of social media, particularly Twitter. He said that this tool allows the precinct to not only stay in touch and offer tips to residents in the area, but it would limit false information from spreading.
“I’m a big believer in social media. The goal is to get information out to everyone at the same time,” he said. “One of the biggest successes out of it was back in April with the train derailment in the 108th precinct. Probably 50 to 60 percent of the people who reside in my precinct use that subway line. We tweeted out different routes for people to find their way home. Once you get the following, it’s going to be a very powerful tool for the precinct.”
As of press time, the @NYPD109Pct Twitter account had more than 500 followers, a number that Conforti said he thinks will quickly jump into the thousands as the precinct continues to reach out to the community, both in-person and digitally.
For Conforti, the 109th precinct is familiar territory as he headed the detective squad there for four years. The captain knew Maguire from when they were both at the 109th, though they only overlapped for a couple of months.
Maguire is moving on to become the Commanding Officer of Narcotics Borough Queens. He said in a letter to the 109th Precinct Community Council that he will miss the precinct he led for more than four years.
“It has been my pleasure to serve the community and build friendships and partnerships with people throughout the 109th Precinct,” he said. “I am sure that I will continually look back upon these years with fondness for the people of this great command.”
Over in the 112th Precinct, Captain Judith Harrison is taking over as its new Commanding Officer. Harrison has served in several Queens precincts, as well as the Police Academy, Patrol Borough Queens North and the Community Affairs Bureau. Conforti said Harrison should consider what works but she should also embrace change.
“Just because it worked for me doesn’t mean it would work for her. Often, I’ve learned that change is good, even if it’s not apparent that certain things aren’t working. It seems to me that when you change things around a little bit, it increases the productivity and attitude,” he said. “She’ll do a fabulous job there.”
As for his own new job, Conforti is evaluating how operations run at the 109th precinct, looking at which policies and procedures are working. However, he said that he will be engaged heavily in community outreach.
“When you tie the community relations with crime prevention methods with social media with the hard work of the officers and a little direction by the person in charge, you obtain great results. That’s what I anticipate here,” Conforti said. “It’s a partnership between us and the community.”
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @JoeMarvilli.