A young New York City Police Department captain is making a mark on his community the old-fashioned way, by pounding the pavement and making friends. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
On a recent trip to Washington Heights, there were plenty of Hugs for Captain Fausto Pichardo -- not your everyday scene for NYPD officers.
"Leading the charge and getting out there will be indicative of what I want to set as a standard for all of the police officers in the 33rd precinct," Pichardo said.
And he is the boss. Last year, when he was only 35, he was appointed Commanding Officer of the 33rd in Washington Heights. It's relatively young to hold such a post. But it appears to be working for him.
"I don't think he is going to take any stuff from people and I think folks know that," said Yvonne Stennett of the Community League Of The Heights.
Stennett, a longtime community activist, says Pichardo has shown dedication to fighting crime while improving police-community relations. She says it's a major plus that he is Dominican and the first Latino to run the precinct which is in a predominantly Latino neighborhood.
"Because he understands where the folks are coming from in terms of their cultural nuances, what they believe and all of that. It makes it easier for him to have the relationship and develop the trust that you need to develop in order to work in our community," Stennett said.
He's making it a point to get to know the young people as well, encouraging them to stay out of trouble.
"He approaches people with actual respect unlike some other people that I know that they really don't approach you the same," said one Washington Heights resident.
But it's not all a cake walk in the neighborhood. Washington Heights has seen a drastic decrease in crime and drugs over the years. However, the captain says the narcotics trade is the biggest issue, especially since the area is easily accessible from the Bronx and New Jersey. In recent days there have been major prescription pill and marijuana busts.
"I definitely feel that there is a lot more to be done. But hopefully I will stick around for a number of years to come. And I think we are headed in a great direction to build that trust with the community," Pichardo said.