Inspector Richie Taylor, Commanding Officer, Community Affairs Outreach for the NYPD organized the Annual NYPD Pre-Passover Security Briefing held this past Wednesday, March 29, at One Police Plaza, with the participation of Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell. The 45th consecutive event, though smaller than previous years, drew ranking brass and NYC community leaders involved in local civic and quality of life concerns. Queens was well represented, with contingents from the 102nd, 107th, and 112th precincts attending.

The briefing was opened by the NYPD Honor Guard, who presented the colors, after which international Jewish music recording artist Yoni Z sang the National Anthem.

Chief Chaplain Rabbi Dr. Alvin Kass did not shy away from the recent anti-Semitic incidents in his invocation, saying, “What’s going on has awakened ancient hostilities and anxieties,” adding, “At the Passover Seder, it’s traditional to eat a bitter vegetable called marror, and this year, because of what’s been going on, that is going to happen, an especially bitter taste.” The rabbi then went on to thank the Police Commissioner and her allocation of resources for the free exercise of our religious rights void of interference or harassment. He also called Passover our Independence Day, “when we remember the liberation of our ancestors thousands of years ago from the Egyptian bondage.”

The rabbi correlated the reading of Shir HaShirim and Pesach as the holiday of love to a poignant observation. “This department knows that they could never have more devoted and more faithful allies than the leadership of the Jewish community.”

“Make no mistake, this city has a lot of challenges,” stated Hon. Commissioner Sewell in her opening remarks, which pivoted to public safety updates and highlighted the strong relationship between the NYPD and the Jewish community. “For centuries, our country and our city have long been a beacon for those seeking safety and freedom… and for those yearning to practice their religions, and cultures in peace.”

“Nobody knows the community better than you do,” reminded Inspector Taylor, an 18-year veteran at the department in his remarks that singled out the superb service and work performed by his community affairs officers who are available around the clock “answering the phone, on duty, off duty, on their days off, on vacation, and when they are home with their families and children, to ensure that community needs are addressed during times of crisis or during times of joy.” Taylor likewise praised the Commissioner for his aiding in his success, and spoke highly of Mark Stewart, his Deputy Commissioner, who once oversaw the violent crime squad, where he supervised the investigations into some of the most heinous crimes in Manhattan. Taylor added, “The relationship that the Police Department has with the Jewish community has never been stronger. The tone is set right from the mayor down to his Senior Advisor Joel Eisdorfer,” who is a constant presence for Taylor, the NYPD, and the Jewish community of the City of New York. Kudos was also extended to First Deputy Commissioner Edward Caban, and Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey.

Assistant Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism Rebecca Weiner delivered statistics and noted recent efforts to secure the city’s Jewish communities. Weiner admitted the acts of anti-Semitism appear in “far too large numbers,” but showed hope. “We’ve been able to turn this in a much more favorable direction with a sizable decrease in anti-Semitic hate crimes this year to date. This is the product of excellent and sustained police work.” In acknowledging the decrease, Sergeant Jesse Ankele, Supervisor of the Hate Crime Task Force, reiterated that his unit remains on the guard and diligent in the investigation and arrest of hate crimes aimed at holding perpetrators accountable. In the event’s closing remarks, Deputy Commissioner Stewart praised the array of Jewish volunteer organizations and their cohesive partnerships with the department that add a layer of security for the vulnerable Jewish population.

The Queens Jewish Link extends warm regards to 107th Community Affairs officers Kevin McCarthy and Tim Gorman for providing transportation for myself, Yaakov Serle, our co-publisher; Clergy Liaison Rabbi Shlomo Nisanov and his son; Roman Davydov, a Real Estate Agent and Young Israel of Briarwood representative, and Community Advisor Alan Sherman, as well as the presence of Deputy Inspector Kevin Chan, Commanding Officer. We also thank the 112th precinct’s Forest Hills contingent, led by Lieutenant Benjamin Gelber, and Captain Jeremy R. Kivlin, Commanding Officer for the 102nd precinct, encompassing Kew Gardens, for his noted attendance alongside Clergy Liaison Rabbi Daniel Pollack.

 By Shabsie Saphirstein