Attention Forest Hills and Rego Park. There’s a new sheriff in town.
After two years under the watch of Capt. Thomas Conforti, command of the 112th Precinct has been handed over to Capt. Judith Harrison after Conforti took the same job at the 109th Precinct in Flushing.
July 3 was Harrison’s first day as head of the Forest Hills-based command, and her first as a commanding officer at any city precinct.
But in a recent sit-down interview with the Chronicle, the Jamaica native said there were no first day jitters for her at all.
“I feel very comfortable. Capt. Conforti left this command in very good shape,” Harrison said. “It was an effortless and seamless transition because things are going very well here. Crime is down, morale is high and it’s a great command to inherit.”
As a child, she wanted to serve in law enforcement, similar to her mother, who served in the civilian arm of the NYPD.
But Harrison, 46, went to New Jersey’s Farleigh Dickinson University on a basketball scholarship and eventually graduated with a degree in business management with dreams of opening her own business.
After years of working as a courier and other odd jobs, she nearly became a police officer in the summer of 1992, but decided against it prior to the birth of her twin children in May.
She eventually joined the NYPD in 1997, first patrolling the streets of the 103rd Precinct as a 30-year-old rookie officer.
Now, Harrison’s resume includes time at the 102nd, 104th and 109th precincts, as well as the Police Academy and Patrol Borough Queens North.
Before Harrison joined the 112th Precinct, she served as the 115th Precinct’s executive officer for a year after she was promoted to captain in January 2013.
She first met Conforti in 2006 when they were both lieutenants in the 109th Precinct. They formed a close bond at that time, a bond that gets stronger as time goes on.
“One of the things people don’t know about Capt. Conforti is that he’s one of my mentors,” she said. “He’s somebody that I know I can pick up the phone and talk to whenever.”
When it comes to leading the same precinct he headed for two years, Harrison says she expects day-to-day operations to continue as normal, despite the change at the top.
“I just want to reacclimate myself to this area and the issues germane to this particular area,” she said. “I haven’t been here long enough to say I’m going to change this or that. I want to continue in the positive direction he led the command in.”
In terms of maintaining record low crime rates, Harrison has big shoes to fill.
The area has gone two full years without a murder and robberies are down 35 percent from last year, while burglaries are down 24 percent, as well.
Heidi Chain, the 112th Precinct Community Council President, said in an email she is confident Capt. Harrison will help continue such positive trends
“We are very lucky to have such a talented captain assigned to the 112th precinct,” Chain said. “I truly believe that we are in excellent hands and I hope everyone joins me in welcoming Capt. Harrison to our community.”
Harrison said she is committed to continuing social media outreach programs such as “Tweetalong Tuesdays,” where two officers are shadowed for a few hours and updates on their activities are disseminated on the precinct’s official Twitter page.
In the end, she believes communication with residents, whether online or in person, is the key to leading a productive precinct.
“The most important thing for me is that I want to be accessible for people,” Harrison said. “I want people to attach a face to the name. I want people to know that I care.”