The 79th Precinct welcomed 66 new police officers yesterday – the first group of new officers to the precinct in almost a year – and the department was buzzing with anticipation and excitement.
Typically, the NYPD’s police academy recruits and graduates new officers twice annually, at which point most of the precincts around the city receive an influx of new recruits. However, budget cutbacks over the last three years has decreased recruitment, and now a precinct is lucky to receive a group of new recruits once a year.
“You will remember this day; I remember my first day, there were only 6 brand-new cops. And its pretty cool,” Deputy Inspector Peter Bartoszek told the new recruits during roll call. “This is not a time to be nervous; this the time to be excited and you’re going to learn. We’re not just throwing you out there.”
Most of the recruits have been assigned a “foot post,” a specific area within the confines of the precinct’s impact zones. For the first six weeks, two new officers will be paired with one seasoned veteran.
Although there was only one graduating class this year, the NYPD’s police academy graduated an unusually high number of 1,700, 500 of which went to precincts in Brooklyn North alone.
The 66 additional recruits to the 79 bring the total number of officers to 350. But according to Inspector Bartoszek the increase is temporary: After six weeks, the precinct expects to lose around 50 of those 66 officers to other precincts in Brooklyn, leaving a final absorption of around 15-20 new officers.
“I don’t know the exact number when the dust settles. But we’re definitely going to be losing people for sure. It happens every time we get new people,” said Bartoszek. “But still, a class of this magnitude is very unique, and we’re still very excited. It’s exciting to get some rejuvenated energy into the precinct.”
New recruit Charles Harvell, Jr., 32, from East New York, said he’s excited to learn the job, get out there and get a feel for the people and community: “I love Bedford-Stuyvesant; I grew up around here. My pastor lives here, and I used to come here all the time to play basketball in Tompkins Projects.”
Karen Ernst, 25, from Nassau County, Long Island, said her grandfather is a retired police officer from the 81st Pct., and it was interesting for her going through the academy remembering some of the stories her grandfather shared and comparing it to what officers can and cannot do today.
“I’m just learning Bed-Stuy. Everyone seems very friendly. I’m looking forward to learning more about the area,” said Ernst.
Jason Dowdell, 28, from Suffolk County, L.I., also has a grandfather who worked as a sergeant in the NYPD around 1946, after the end of World War II.
“After he got on after WW II, they didn’t have enough guns for everyone, because there was a budget deficit. So the new guys just had night sticks,” said Dowdell. “They had to learn Morse Code, because they didn’t have enough radios either. So they used sticks on curbs to communicate. He said he didn’t get a gun until 1948.”