K-9 Officers Show Their Skills At 114th Precinct Community Council
Ten new officers from the January New York City Police Department rookie class have arrived at the 114th Police Precinct. Precinct Commanding Officer Deputy Inspector Stephen Cirabisi announced the assignments as “some good news” at the April 24 meeting of the Precinct Community Council.
Cirabisi thanked Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., chairman of the council Public Safety Committee, for his continuing support. “We got to be happy,” Cirabisi said, adding, “We would have liked more [officers].”
Vallone acknowledged the good news at the May 3 meeting of the United Community Civic Association (UCCA) but indicated the 10 additional officers are part of Operation Impact and not permanently assigned to the 114th Precinct.
Cirabisi, who also spoke at the May 3 UCCA meeting, said the 114th has about 50 percent of the manpower it had a decade ago. “Presently, we have about 160 officers,” he said. “Ten years back, we had over 300.”
Overall, the NYPD is down about 7,000 police officers since Sept. 11, 2001. “We’re asked to do the same amount of work with half the police officers,” Cirabisi noted at the council meeting. Over the most recent 28-day period, major index crimes were down 13 percent in the 114th. “We’re hoping to continue these reductions,” Cirabisi said.
Lieutenant John Pappas, commander of the K-9 Transit Unit that recently opened its new headquarters on Northern Boulevard and 33rd Street, presided over a special demonstration of some of the unit’s members at the council meeting, held at Riccardo’s By the Bridge in Astoria.
K-9 Ellis, a three-year-old black Labrador Retriever is a specially trained “vapor wake” dog. Vapor wake training involves being able to sniff and trace explosives on the move in crowded environments, such as the subways.
Since its inception in 2006, the K-9 Transit Unit was designed to combat terrorism. “Commissioner [Ray] Kelly saw a special need,” Pappas said. K-9 Ellis, named after Mark Ellis, a victim of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, is trained to patrol places such as Penn Station and Grand Central Station just for that reason. “That’s the reason we exist—September 11,” Pappas said.
Bred at Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine in Alabama, K-9 Ellis as a puppy was trained for more than a year to locate explosives. “Only 15 percent [of dogs] elevate to the level of vapor wake,” Pappas said, noting that 5.2 million people a day travel through the city’s transit system. “The purpose of the unit is counter-terrorism and [K-9s] must be able to work in crowded train cars and respond to commands.”
K-9 Ellis moved swiftly through the room at Riccardo’s until he located the hidden demonstration item. As soon as he completed his mission, K-9 Ellis sat down and waited for his reward, a ball he gripped in his mouth.
The second K-9, Bear, a five-year old German shepherd trained in area and building searches as well as counter-terrorism, also quickly located the demonstration item after receiving the command and eagerly sniffing several locations.
“Obedience is the cornerstone of what we do,” Pappas said.
Police Officers Guillermo Rincon and Mubashshir Tohfafarosh were recipients of March Cop-of-the-Month awards. On Saturday, March 10 at 1:20 a.m., Rincon was on patrol with his partner when a 911 call of a burglary in progress at 23rd Street and 36th Avenue came in. Rincon arrived at the location and was alerted that two suspects, one of whom was later found to be a New York Court Officer carrying a 9-mm gun, had driven off in a black Nissan. The officer pursued and arrested them.
On Friday, March 9 at about 3 a.m., while patrolling at Broadway and 41st Street, Tohfafarosh responded to a 911 call from two females being menaced by a male after leaving the “R” line train station. Tohfafarosh got a description and conducted a canvass. The suspect was detained, identified and arrested.