By David Brand
After 32 years on the job, Assistant Chief Martin Morales is embracing a new role with the NYPD, taking over as Borough Commander of Patrol Borough Queens North.
Morales started walking the Queens beat in 1987 before moving on to precincts and commands throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan. He recently served as commanding officer of the NYPD’s Domestic Violence Unit, which works with district attorney offices in each of the five boroughs.
Morales, who graduated from Jamaica High School and CUNY’s Queens College, said he is eager to return to his home borough.
“What I want to focus on is connecting and protecting the people in all of Queens and improving their quality of life,” said Morales, adding “I grew up in Queens. I’m invested in Queens. I have family in Queens.”
Morales said said he wants to build on the work of his predecessor Juanita Holmes, who retired in December and now works for BNY Mellon Director of Global Studies.
“I don’t see things broke, I see things can be improved upon,” Morales said. “I’m still in assessment mode, listening to elected officials, members of the community.”
Morales said he is examining parking and traffic problems in the area, especially along Roosevelt Avenue. He said he also understands concerns about over-policing in communities of color and will work to build bridges between the police and individuals, who may feel alienated by law enforcement, especially immigrants.
“The department has been shifting,” he said. “We’re definitely stopping less people, making fewer arrests and crime continues to go down.
Overall crime is down in the Queens North, but murder and rape both increased in 2018. There were 25 murders in the command and 211 reported rapes last year compared to 13 murders and 145 reported rapes in 2017.
There remains a large disparity in the number of people of color arrested or issued summonses for low level offenses like fare evasion in Queens North, and throughout New York City.
Morales said he and Queens North will support policy changes around marijuana enforcement and other directives related to low-level offenses as they come down from the city.
“Whatever the department policy is, we’re going to support,” he said, adding that he encouraged all residents to “come and report. We’re going to help people with what they need.”