2015-09-30 / Front Page

Crime Buster Jack Maple Secured A Place In History

By Liz Goff

City officials gathered at a Richmond Hill street corner earlier this month, to co-name a portion of the intersection for a champion of the city’s war on crime.

Jack Maple grew up in his family home on the corner of Forest Park at 108th Street and Park Lane South, where the late Deputy Police Commissioner developed his lifelong love affair with Queens and New York City.

In a 1997 interview, Maple said growing up “next door to an urban oasis” in Queens made him understand “how important it is for every New Yorker to feel safe in our own neighborhoods and as we travel throughout the city.”

When Police Commissioner William Bratton first came to New York City in 1990 to lead the city Transit Police Department (then a separate agency) Bratton met Transit Police Lt. Jack Maple, who sculpted a powerful crime-fighting initiative that grew to become “CompStat,” the centerpiece of the city’s crime control strategy under Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Maple said in his 1999 book, The Crime Fighter: Putting The Bad Guys Out Of Business that during his tenure with the Transit Police Department, he became tired of responding to crimes in the subway, instead of fighting them. So he went home and created several hundred maps on his wall. Fifty-five feet of maps that Maple called, “charts of the future,” that he used to map every “solved vs. unsolved” violent crime in every train, on every subway station in the city.

Maple showed Bratton the charts, and between 1990 and 1992 the two men cut felonies in the subways by 27 per cent and robberies by one-third.

When Bratton assumed command of the NYPD in 1994, he made Maple First Deputy Police Commissioner, his second-in-command. Under Bratton’s watch, Maple’s maps were computerized, precinct commanders were held accountable for crimes in their areas and the original CompStat computerized crime strategy system of tracking, mapping and quickly disseminating crime statistics was born.

Under the original program, officers and their commanders were held responsible for crime in their “sectors” and all crimes, including loitering and public intoxication, were aggressively pursued. Precinct and squad commanders were also grilled at monthly meetings where they were required to provide proactive solutions to local crime conditions – or face the wrath of a panel of the city’s top cops.

NYPD statistics show that between 1990 and 2013, with the CompStat system in place, homicides in New York City plunged by a whopping 80 percent. The number of assaults, grand larcenies, robberies, burglaries, violent felonies and misdemeanor crimes also plummeted to a new low under CompStat, securing Maple’s place in history as “the man who saved New York City.” By the late 1990s, Maple’s CompStat system was being utilized by police departments in major cities throughout the United States.

Maple lost a long battle with cancer, passing away on August 4, 2001, almost a decade after he put Queens on the map as the birthplace of a system described as the most effective tool in the history of crime fighting.

During a ceremony co-naming a portion of 108th Street “Jack Maple Place,” Maple’s sister, Anna Marie Maple, recalled how her brother asked family members to gather in Central Park on one afternoon.

“The wheelchair-bound Maple asked to be positioned in a spot overseeing the park, “so he could see the happiness of the children playing there,” Anna Maple said.

The outing took place a short while before Maple passed away, and was symbolic of her brother’s concern for the safety and happiness of his fellow New Yorkers, Maple said.

Local lawmakers who attended the ceremony championed Maple for his lifelong commitment to New York City.

“What a profound impact this one person, this one kid from Richmond Hill had on this community, on this city, on this country,” Councilman Eric Ulrich said.

“Those of you who did not know Jack and only hear stories about him really cannot understand how much we learned from him,” Bratton said.

The Commissioner said Maple was the “essence of a crime fighter,” a concerned citizen of New York City who worked tirelessly to keep his fellow New Yorkers safe.

“I’m so pleased that the City Council and the community has deemed it fitting to erect this sign as an honor to Jack’s memory,” Bratton said.

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