By Mica Soffer, Publisher of COLlive.com
Photos, Video: Itzik Roytman
Deputy Inspector Norman Grandstaff, the new Commanding Officer of the NYPD 71st Precinct, has only positive things to say about his predecessor, despite differing in style.
“I think Inspector George Fitzgibbon did an unbelievable job in his two and a half years here,” the affable and youthful looking Grandstaff said about his buttoned-up and assertive precursor.
Grandstaff taking the reins of policing the Crown Heights area will make it the second time he is succeeding Fitzgibbon. Both led, in succession, Canarsie’s 69th Precinct.
Grandstaff was interviewed by COLlive.com and local media on Friday at the 71st Precinct on Empire Blvd. a week after his appointment. The married man and father of 3 children hopes to continue Fitzgibbon’s accomplishments, yet with his own personal touch.
Fitzgibbon “brought down crime and I inherited a really well-run precinct,” he said. “Crime is on the downturn here, and that’s really due to the hard work of the cops.”
A proud third generation police officer whose father, grandfather and 3 brothers are all on the force, Grandstaff says police is his “family business” and he looks forward to meeting and working with the local community.
“My plan is to be responsive and available,” said Grandstaff, whose resume is an accumulated 17.5 years in the police force. “A lot of times people ask, am I a ‘crime guy’ or a ‘community guy’. My focus is on everything.”
And to get that done, Grandstaff plans to be visible and accessible. “No one’s getting robbed in the station house,” he jokes. “I recognize that I have to be out there. My focus is to fight crime, work on community issues and keep the community feeling safe.”
He also credits the 71st with having the “top of the list of the best Community Affairs officers in the city,” led by Detectives Vinny Martinos and Frank Bulzoni. “My door is always open, and we have excellent community affairs officers. You can reach me through them.”
Grandstaff says he learned a lot about the Crown Heights community in the last week, having spent time visiting local community leaders. “I learned that the Jewish community is extremely united, they care, they are there for each other,” he said. “I think we work well with the Jewish community as well as all communities in the area.”
Residents living in the confines of the 71st Precinct are primarily of three major and distinct ethnic groups; African American, Lubavitch chassidic Jews and Caribbean Americans.
“We all want the same things – better and safer neighborhoods, better quality of life,” says Grandstaff. “Everyone that lives here, works here, prays here, goes to school here, whatever brings you here – we’re here for you.”
Video: Meet new 71st Commanding Officer Deputy Inspector Norman Grandstaff