BY LYNN EDMONDS
The 109th Precinct welcomed Deputy Inspector Judith Harrison as their new commanding officer at a Community Council barbeque last Wednesday.
Harrison took over the command from Deputy Inspector Thomas Conforti in May.
“I’m looking forward to working for you. Your issues are my issues; your concerns are my concerns; and I can’t wait to tackle the job of just serving you,” Harrison said.
The 19-year NYPD veteran was Commanding Officer of the 112th Precinct in Forest Hills for two years before taking her new post.
Harrison has worked in the Police Academy, Patrol Borough Queens North and the Community Affairs Bureau, as well as multiple precincts within Queens.
She began her career at the 103rd Precinct, and then moved on to the 102nd, the 104th, the 109th, the 115th, and finally the 112th, before returning to the 109th this May.
“Coming back to the 109 Precinct is like coming back home,” Harrison said. “I was here before, I’m familiar with the neighborhood, I’m familiar with the community, I’m familiar with the issues, and I really feel at home here.”
Coincidentally, Harrison and Conforti were Lieutenants together at the 109th Precinct. Harrison was an Operations Coordinator, and Conforti was the Commander of the Detective Squad.
Conforti was also the Commanding Officer at the 112th Precinct before Harrison took over.
“I feel like I’m following him,” she joked.
Harrison praised the popular Deputy Inspector, who was known for being active on Twitter and close with constituents at both the 112th and the 109th.
“Let me just tell you, when you take over a command from Tom Conforti, you’re taking over a command that is not only very well run, but you’re getting quality, quality cops and supervisors, because they take their direction from the top,” Harrison said.
“I vow to continue that,” she added.
Conforti was transferred to the Crime Prevention Division in Manhattan, where he is now the commanding officer.
Members of the Community Council presented Conforti with an award in honor of his service.
“Inspector Conforti will be missed by many. He worked closely with members of our community, civic leaders, elected officials, to help resolve any problems that came up,” Vana Partridge, President of the Community Council, said.
Councilmen Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) and Peter Koo (D-Flushing) also bade Conforti farewell and presented him with a proclamation.
“Inspector Conforti is the people’s police. He always connects people, through social media, through his outreach. He’s very community minded,” Koo said. “He’s a pioneer in that.”
“He wrapped his arms around each one of the different communities that are part of the 109,” Vallone said.
Under Conforti’s watch, the 109th Precinct began a Neighborhood Coordinating Officer program, which kicked off in April. It was one of several precincts throughout the city to do so.
The program, which Vallone advocated for, saw additional officers come to the Precinct, with explicit instructions to spend more time patrolling their given neighborhood rather than responding to 911 calls all over the precinct or even further afield. The change was met with a positive response in quiet neighborhoods like Whitestone and College Point, where it was less common to see a police car than in Downtown Flushing.
But the 109th had its share of troubles, too, under Conforti’s tenure. In December, Lt. Robert Sung and Det. Yatyu Yam were arrested on corruption charges, and DNAInfo reported in April that a dozen more officers were under investigation.
For his part, Conforti said that that he had spent seven of his 24 years with the NYPD at the 109th. He said the precinct was close to his heart, not least because he met his wife there, when he was working security and she was a sales clerk at Stern’s.
“I can’t stress enough, how important a part that the 109th Precinct has been to my life here,” Conforti said.
Reach Lynn Edmonds at (718) 357-7400 x127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @Ellinoamerikana