Charlene Indelicato, Jack McManus and Community Policing

How Roosevelt Island Got a Head Start on Reducing Crime

David Stone
Community Policing Is New York City Policy Followed to Perfection on Roosevelt Island
Community Policing Is New York City Policy Followed to Perfection on Roosevelt Island
Image credit: NYPD Community Affairs Bureau

"I wanted somebody who knew community policing," Charlene Indelicato said in our last conversation as she prepared to leave RIOC. "Hiring Jack McManus turned everything around for me." What was true for her became true for Roosevelt Island, too.

You don't have to look far into the past for the day when Good Shepherd Plaza filled with protestors outranged by the abuses of Public Safety under Keith Guerra. The Common Council's Erin Feely-Nahem rallied a crowd demanding change, including Guerra's ouster.

Once Charline Indelicato took office as President at RIOC, the position vacated months before by Leslie Torres, Guerra was soon sacked. The PSD Director's chair was still warm when he was replaced, almost overnight, by Jack McManus.

But “I’m not from a ‘cop family’,” McManus told me at the time.

His original career dream was to be a high school teacher and to coach basketball, but discouraged by low pay after two years, he started taking civil service exams. Fate stepped in. Jack McManus became a cop, and damn good one, only because it was the first door that opened.

The timing was fortuitous. Starting out on a beat in 1979, he experienced the worst of times for New York City, at the gut level, but eventually took a leadership role in the turnaround, spurred by community policing, that made ours the safest major city in the U.S., a model others are now trying to emulate.

Serving as commanding officer in three city precincts, McManus says, “Any success I had in the precincts was from going outside. I want to talk to as many people as I can, get my arms around what’s happening a little better.

This thinking echoes the philosophies of William Bratton and Raymond Kelly, Commissioners he served under, and more than any other influence, the ideas embedded in that philosophy revolutionized policing in New York City and brought crime down to historic lows.

The results, in less than four years have been dramatic, showing up not only in reduced crime here but, more importantly although harder to quantify, in the blending of community and cops as equal partners in making this a better place to live.

“I hope they decide to hire me,” McManus told me in an interview I conducted for the Main Street WIRE intended to introduce him to residents. “I’ll place a lot of emphasis on positive interaction between the community and our department. I will go to any meeting I’m invited to, anybody that would have me. This job can’t be done from behind a desk or in a vacuum.”

The man so eager to become PSD's Director in 2013 has delivered on his promises, bringing his personal style of sensitive leadership to community policing strategies learned with the NYPD.

What's working beyond expectations across the city started here in microcosm the day Charlene Indelicato made what she considered the best decision of her tenure with RIOC. She hired Jack McManus. 

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