To celebrate a century of community service, the NYPD and officers of the 102nd Precinct held a ceremony last week at the 100-year-old 102nd Precinct.
The building was erected on 118th Street in Richmond Hill for the meager price of $100,000, with construction ending in 1914.
Jeff Fisher, who served with the 102nd Precinct for his entire 25-year NYPD career from 1984 to 2009, took the opportunity to reminisce with his old patrol buddies at the ceremony, where he recounted some of his most poignant memories from the force, such as the day a tiger got loose in Forest Park.
Lightheartedness aside, Fisher had his share of dark days on the force, too.
“A year or so before I retired, I responded to a call at 127th off Hillside Avenue where this guy was throwing Molotov cocktails,” Fisher said. “I’ve been shot at twice, too.”
Patrick Lynch, head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said that while in other areas of the city tensions are elevated between citizens and police, the officers in Richmond Hill have a great relationship with the members of their community.
“If you look to the media these days, you might think police are everything but good,” Lynch said. “But out here in Richmond Hill, if you talk to the community, they’ll say there’s some kind of problem, but not my cops.”
Despite the relative calm as compared to other areas of the city, there have been a few notable incidents in the precinct since it was established. Perhaps the most famous crime to take place in the community was the March 13, 1964, murder of Kitty Genovese.
Genovese was stabbed, raped and robbed by Winston Mosely while 38 faceless witnesses - her neighbors - listened on without taking action for approximately 30 minutes. The incident led to the establishment of the first emergency phone number, then 440-1234, which eventually became 911.
Another harrowing day in 102nd Precinct history was the eve of Thanksgiving in 1950, when an eastbound Babylon LIRR train carrying 1,200 passengers collided with a stalled Hempstead-bound train with 1,000 passengers just past the Kew Gardens station at Metropolitan Avenue, killing 78 and injuring 363.
The 102nd Precinct was tasked with overseeing the site, and just over 12 hours after the crash, service was able to resume.
Honored at the ceremony were the only two officers of the precinct to have died in the line of duty, Patrolmen John H. Ringhauser and Francis M. O’hara. Ringhauser passed away on May 7, 1931, after skidding off the road while responding to a burglary call, and O’Hara died in an explosion at 161-22 Grand Central Pkwy while responding to a gas leak.
Deputy Inspector Henry Sautner, commanding officer of the precinct for the past two years, said his time in the 102nd Precinct has been the most rewarding and challenging of his career thus far.
“I love our community, they keep our feet to the fire,” Sautner said. “It’s not that we work for this community. We work with this community.”