Paul Fleuranges: I'm Paul Fleuranges with an “In the News” podcast on TransitTrax, New York City Transit's podcast service.
((SOUND: Police Commissioner Ray Kelly counting down: “ONE-TWO-THREE” APPLAUSE))
And with that, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, top Police brass, community and elected officials officially dedicated new headquarters for the Transit Bureau's District 23 at the Rockaway Park/Beach 116th Street station.
Raymond Kelly, Police Commissioner: It's certainly well deserved by the officers of Transit District 23 who have done a great job. It has everything here under one roof. I just saw the holding facilities for people who are arrested, it has nice locker rooms, it has a line up room and all the things you need in a modern police facility. It's overdue and we very much appreciate it.
((SOUND: Girl singing the Star Spangled Banner.))
Paul Fleuranges: The new digs are located just feet from the Station Booth. The glass walls allow passersby a clear view of the Police desk and officers a clear view of the turnstiles and entrance. District 23 officers patrol 20 stations, and ride the 16 miles of rails along the Far Rockaway A Line and Rockaway Shuttle, used by some 50-thousand riders daily. Working to prevent vandalism, fare evasion, and serious crimes from taking place. The new offices replace the District's former makeshift headquarters.
Captain Phylis Byrne, Commanding Officer District 23: This building has been under construction design and was basically taken down, I believe, in 2003, so from 2003 until 2009 Transit District 23 was housed in trailers in the Walbaum's parking lot.
Paul Fleuranges: Now Captain Phylis Byrne, the Commanding Officer of District 23 and her Officers -- who patrol a 34 square mile area which includes the Rockaway Penninsula, Broad Channel, Hamilton Beach, Howard Beach, and portions of Ozone Park -- have a state of the art, 15-thousand square foot space to operate out of.
Phylis Byrne: It's all wired to LAN, so we are on the department intranet. We have everything right here. We process prisoners and they're property here, we have access to the computers, we have codes, we have our own fingerprinting technology here. That alone I've seen an increase in arrests since we opened this facility. It's easier, and we can get cops back out on patrol faster. So that's the major benefit, I can keep more cops out on patrol.
Paul Fleuranges: Designed by New York City Transit to Police Department specifications, the new 18 million dollar facility was built by New York City Transit and funded by the MTA Capital Plan. John O'Grady heads up the Facilities Division of Transit's Capital Program Management Department. His team managed the project.
John O'Grady, Capital Program Management: Essentially this was a ground up facility. We had to do all the foundation work, all the site work, all the foundation work, a new structural steel frame. Basically built a box for the facility and then essentially outfit the facility with state of the art communications systems. All the necessary police functional rooms in the form of holding rooms and holding cells, etcetera. Probably the highest tech communication system and HVAC system that we have built for a police facility.
Paul Fleuranges: According to community leaders like Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, this new facility will enhance public safety in and outside the subway.
Audrey Pheffer, NYS Assembly: For the community we now have the visibility of the Transit Police. Before that they were behind walls you never knew; now it's all windowed and also we have the sign outside so that anyone who has a problem who wants to ask a question, because people don't realize the Transit Police are Police, and therefore you can make a complaint you can talk to them about issues.
Paul Fleuranges: In addition to the new Transit District, the interior as well as the exterior of the head house building also received a face lift.
Audrey Pheffer: It's the station. The windows were opened, it's painted we have two beautiful stain glass windows and the fronts of the different stores. So now, all of a sudden, you're looking at a public facility the police, MTA and they really invested in this community; we're thankful for it and it's really a very strong statement that government and the MTA is saying about the Rockaways.
Paul Fleuranges: And according to the Police Commissioner, the new offices will help officers stationed here continue to drive down crime to the lowest levels in decades, and protect the system from would-be terrorists, adding that the new district offices are not only good for policing but also for morale.
Commissioner Kelly: Oh, sure, it's terrific. It's a statement as to what management what your organization thinks of you, in terms of the facility that you work in. This is the right message. This is the message that I'd like to give to every officer: to be able to turn out of, and work and process your business in a state of the art facility. That is what we have here and again we are very appreciative of it.
Paul Fleuranges: So if you ride the A train in the Rockaways, know that District 23 Officers are working hard to keep you safe. If you need assistance, the doors of the new facility are always open.
For TransitTrax, I'm Paul Fleuranges, thanks for listening and thanks for riding with New York City Transit.