The 72nd Precinct has a new commanding officer in town and he has plenty of ties to the Sunset Park neighborhood.
Captain Emmanuel Gonzalez began his role of commanding officer of the 72nd Precinct on Monday, March 14, replacing Captain Tommy Ng, but has already started to make a significant impact in reaching out to the community.
“I feel very honored to be a commanding officer here,” said Gonzalez, who grew up on 42nd Street between Ninth and 10th Avenues. “My grandmother used to live on 41st between Third and Fourth Avenues so I’m very familiar with this area. I used to go to the Sunset Park pool as a kid.”
Gonzalez started at the Police Academy right after graduating from St. John’s University in 1989. “My first command and my first police locker room experience was here in the 72nd Precinct,” he said, noting that he served in several areas in southern Brooklyn. “In a way, my career has come full circle and I’m back here where I started.”
After Gonzalez completed his training in 1990, he went to the 70th Precinct as a police officer, followed by a stint in Brooklyn North Narcotics where he became an undercover narcotics officer.
“In 2000, I was promoted to sergeant and assigned to housing bureau PSA 2 in East New York,” Gonzalez said. In 2005, he returned to the 70th Precinct as lieutenant, remaining there until 2012 when he was promoted to captain. “Then I was executive officer at the 60th and 66th Precincts [in Coney Island and Boro Park].”
Gonzalez also was a member of ROTC and is still in the Army Reserve as well. “I’ve been deployed twice to Iraq, once for the initial combat operations there in 2003, and I went back in 2008 for the surge,” he explained.
The 48-year-old C.O. was inspired to join law enforcement by the crime he witnessed firsthand when he was 10 years old. “During those days of growing up in Borough Park and Sunset Park, there was quite a bit of gang activity and that’s resonated with me through the years,” Gonzalez noted. “I remember one time I was playing baseball in the park as a kid with my father. Then, some young men began to shoot guns at each other. My father covered me with his body.”
As he settles into his new role, Gonzalez emphasized the importance of community outreach. “I know that the previous C.O. had done a phenomenal job in reaching out to the community so I’ve got big shoes to fill,” he said. “I need to reach out to as many people as possible. Nobody is going to be excluded.”
The new C.O. also promises revisions to community council meetings. “People can actually make complaints there. So if someone has a complaint about drugs or gang activity, it’s not only about listening, but we’re going to take actual police reports at these meetings,” he explained
Gonzalez also told this paper that the 72nd Precinct will be one of the few citywide that will be kicking off a new program devised by Police Commissioner Bill Bratton called Neighborhood Coordinating Officers (NCO).
“It’s a neighborhood based policing pilot program and you’re going to see more neighborhood based policing,” he explained.”These officers are specifically selected and what they do is problem solve. I think it’s going to be worthwhile.”