Capt. Jeffrey Schiff presided over his first community meeting as the new commanding officer of the 76 Precinct on Tuesday, May 1. But his roots in the neighborhood run deep. Born just beyond the boundaries of the precinct, on Henry Street north of Cobble Hill, Schiff is a true son of South Brooklyn.
"I'm lucky to be back here," said Captain Schiff, sitting behind his desk later in the week. "I'm looking to continue some of the great traditions that already exist and improve on other areas that need work."
One of the key focuses of his new post since taking command of the Union Street station house on April 12 is increasing communication with the community.
"I know Captain Lewis made some strides here and I want to continue that," he said referring to the outgoing Captain, who was recently relocated to the 71 Precinct in Crown Heights. "I'll be walking around and introducing myself. I'm also going to create an e-mail list with a targeted audience of just 76 community persons and influencers, such as PTA heads."
E-mail blasts will provide information to residents on hostile patterns for burglaries, robberies or other crimes in an effort to raise awareness and improve intelligence made available to the NYPD.
"I don't have that many officers," said Captain Schiff. "I have to make do with what I have. So what can I do? I can make use of my community, who have eyes everywhere—including the mailman who walks up and down the street every day. So I'm looking to expand the communication and that existing intelligence. That way, we can take the guesswork out of police work."
Raised by a family of police officers and having toured at the 103rd, 108th and 68th precincts, as well as operating as second in command at the 76 only a few years back, Captain Schiff has an eye for distilling the concerns in a neighborhood and quickly drilling down on it.
The biggest issues in the 76 Precinct are grand larcenies and burglaries, which are up 20 and 27 percent, respectively, this month. But a recent break may have already stemmed the uptick in burglaries.
"We had a very good week, no assaults and no burglaries last week," said the Captain, who went on to relay why that is. "In fact, not too long ago we arrested an individual who was seen pickpocketing in and in Ikea the same day. We did a little more legwork and connected that this person had been spotted trying different doors in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood."
Officers then showed a picture of the suspect to a victim of one of the recent burglaries, who was able to positively ID the individual. That information was shared with Red Hook Justice Center, the DA and Chief Judge Calabrese, who then set bail for the individual at $12,000.
The crook is still locked up.
"As a result, from that time until today, we haven't had any burglaries in the neighborhood," said Captain Schiff with a smile.
Captain Schiff stated that he'd like the community to know he has an open-door policy. If you are concerned about an issue in your area, residents are encouraged to reach out to the 76 Precinct and to introduce themselves at the next monthly meeting.