The 104th Police Precinct has been robbed, twice this year. The culprits reside at One Police Plaza in Downtown Manhattan. They are known and are still at-large… and they are dangerous. Some of them are located in the Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB). While IAB prides themselves on investigating cop behavior, they often fail to recognize that police officers are human beings. IAB also fails to factor in the needs of others when they pass judgment even before the officer receives a formal hearing. Certainly the families of the cops suffer. And many times in their zeal to punish for any slight infraction, IAB also punishes the community that they pledged to protect and serve.
In July 2011, after enduring almost four years of a commanding officer who was essentially MIA and already dreaming of retiring in Florida, the 104th Precinct received the news that Captain Michael Cody was taking over as Commanding Officer (CO). Cody was coming from the Youth Gang Division in Manhattan to the 104th, his first precinct command. Immediately everyone who worked or had contact with him knew that he was a special hands-on commanding officer. They saw how committed he was to the precinct and neighborhoods. It’s rare to see that in people, especially cops, the job takes its toll on many and if the grind of the job doesn’t get you the police brass will.
Captain Cody turned out to be that rare commanding officer possessing intelligence, commitment and a genuine passion for helping people. That’s a perfect combination for a precinct like the 104. This is a precinct with more civic associations, community groups and organizations than any other precinct. The CO must have great communication skills. Michael Cody was and is the great communicator.
Cody made many of us feel better about living in the neighborhood. We felt safer and more connected with the precinct. That’s a remarkable accomplishment. However Cody will be the first to admit that he had help. On the second floor of the precinct a 22-year veteran Special Operations Lieutenant also made his mark on the neighborhoods of the 104.
Lt. James Lombardi possesses very similar qualities to Cody; a love of the job and a passion for helping the public. Lombardi, like Cody, enjoyed working with the neighborhoods; both wanted to build a better and safer community. Lombardi was the glue that held the precinct together while the previous commanding officer was somewhere else. Lombardi’s staff worked hard under him. His unit led the city in graffiti arrests three years in a row. His Street Narcotics Enforcement Unit (SNEU) was #2 and #3 in the city the last two years. He could also go into civic meetings and make everyone feel that they were in good hands. His motivational skills were apparent to anyone who spent 5 minutes with him.
In August 2012 Captain Cody was promoted to the rank of Deputy Inspector. On January 30, 2013 he was transferred to the 115th Precinct in Jackson Heights; a busy precinct that could certainly benefit from his organizational skills. Cops in the precinct and civic leaders who knew him were devastated. “I would work for Cody anywhere, anytime,” said one officer. Civic leaders were even more frustrated, they recognized that Cody was a unique CO.
His replacement was Captain Manson, it was also his first command. However Manson was lucky, as was Cody, they both had Lombardi as their Special Operations Lieutenant.
On May 17th Lt. James Lombardi, the backbone of the 104th Precinct for 4 years, was notified that he was transferred to a precinct in Harlem. Reportedly, neither Manson nor Borough Chief Diane Pizzuti was consulted on the matter. Again the community was devastated.
This time however it was a disciplinary transfer, a punishment for an infraction handed down by desk jockeys in police headquarters. Lt. Lombardi is an aggressive police officer who never stops. When an officer takes on so much some procedural mistakes will be made. The mistake that Lombardi made was taking on too much and having too much passion for his job. For his mistake the NYPD wanted to punish him with a transfer to Harlem, no hearing, nothing.
Lt. James Lombardi will do well wherever he goes. He will make everyone around him better. The real losers in the transfer of Lombardi are the residents living in the confines of the 104th Precinct. IAB actually punished the community and once again deflated the morale of the men and women in the 104th Precinct. It’s time that Commissioner Ray Kelly focuses on the bigger picture when it comes to transfers and or punishment. The intangibles that can’t be measured or compiled on a stat sheet must be considered. The NYPD should stop looking at formulas and policies and start looking at people and their skills.