Capt. Jason Huerta, new commanding officer at the 111th Precinct, has only been at the Bayside stationhouse for three weeks but already feels at ease at his new location. It’s a far cry from his last assignment.
Huerta, 41, last served as commanding officer of the 110th [Corona] and 115th [Jackson Heights] precincts’ Impact Zones. He explained that each patrol borough has a zone to combat crime in a high violence area.
A native of Flushing, Huerta now lives with his wife and two children on Long Island. He has had a chance to meet with community leaders and traverse the 100-square-mile precinct, which also covers part of Flushing and Fresh Meadows, and all of Douglaston and Little Neck.
“It’s a beautiful area,” he said, “and there’s not much violent crime, mostly burglaries and grand larcenies.”
Car break-ins and home burglaries are the leading offenses in the mostly bedroom communities that make up the precinct. “People have to be extra careful and not leave valuables in their cars, even if they only plan to be gone for a few minutes,” Huerta said. “It should be common sense, but people do it all the time.”
He believes it would have a tremendous impact on crime if people stopped leaving purses, laptops and other valuables in their vehicles.
Regarding home burglaries, the captain said criminals who enter homes are looking for the easiest targets and prefer empty houses. He suggests residents have a good alarm system and locks and that neighbors watch out for each other’s properties. “Neighbors should call the police if they see something unusual,” Huerta added.
Although he does not consider graffiti a major crime in the area, Huerta makes sure it’s cleaned up. “There is a strong anti-graffiti program here,” he said. “It’s important to get it removed, because one problem can lead to another.”
Huerta plans to give a monthly crime update at CB 11 meetings and will continue to visit civic groups.
After having met with several area civics already, he has high praise for residents living in the area. “People are very involved here, which is refreshing,” he said. “I want to know what’s going on and hear from people.”
The new commanding officer is satisfied with his staffing, saying the 127 officers at the precinct “are enough for what we do here.” He is expecting to get a few more rookies soon.
Huerta was introduced at the last Community Board 11 meeting by his predecessor, Deputy Inspector Ron Leyson, who served there for almost two years. Leyson now heads the 110th Precinct in Corona.
Frank Skala, a member of CB 11 and president of the East Bayside Homeowners Association, was happy with Leyson and said Friday he wonders why the NYPD keeps playing musical chairs with commanding officers. “I think it’s because they don’t trust them and don’t want them to make allies in the community,” Skala said.
The civic leader is impressed with Huerta, but believes that moving commanding officers so frequently leads to a lack of continuity in the precinct.
In a sit-down interview in his office on Monday, Huerta said moving officers around frequently is not deliberate. “It’s not an NYPD policy, but based on a complicated analysis,” he said. “It’s done in the best interest of the Police Department overall, not done haphazardly.”
A 21-year NYPD veteran, Huerta has been a captain for three years and is enjoying supervising his precinct. “It’s very fulfilling,” Huerta said. “I’m glad I can have a positive impact on people.”
The new commanding officer called himself “a compassionate person” who tries to treat people with dignity and respect.
He joined the police force as a transit cop in 1991. He later served in Brooklyn and precincts in Richmond Hill, Long Island City and Corona.