2017-11-22 / Front Page

Mayor De Blasio and Police Commissioner Help Name Police Academy Library

By Dr. Dan Miller and Victoria Canore

Mayor Bill de Blasio addressing more than 200 who filled the library named Police Commissioner Benjamin Ward Memorial Library dedicated to former NYC Police Commissioner Benjamin Ward who was appointed by Mayor Edward I. Koch. 

Mayor Bill de Blasio addressing more than 200 who filled the library named Police Commissioner Benjamin Ward Memorial Library dedicated to former NYC Police Commissioner Benjamin Ward who was appointed by Mayor Edward I. Koch. On a chilly Monday morning ( November 20, 2017) very much like the ones patrolman Benjamin Ward felt when he was a beat cop in New York City, Mayor de Blasio and NYPD Police Commissioner James O’Neil joined hundreds of NYPD members, current and former and the family of former Police Commissioner Benjamin Ward to help witness the dedication of the Benjamin Ward Memorial Library at the New York City Police Academy in College Point.

Benjamin Ward, was the first African American appointed by then Mayor Edward Koch, as Police Commissioner of the largest police department in the nation. He was born on August 10, 1926 and died on June 10, 2002. He is survived by four children and many grandchildren. He was a graduate of Brooklyn College and Brooklyn Law School. Ward believed that earning and education were his map to success

Benjamin Ward began his career with the NYPD as a patrolman in 1951 when Joe Post was scoring baskets for Brooklyn College. Post also had strong interest in education and later became a school Principal first in Brooklyn and in Queens. His first assignment at the 80th Pc.t in Brooklyn was anything  but a cakewalk, He was resented  and disliked by fellow cops because he was the first black cop assigned to that precinct. He was nor Assigned a locker and dressed at home having to wear his uniform as he rode to work on the subway. That did not deter Ward from striving to learn as much as he could from his training and patrol experiences move ahead. In fact it was Police Commissioner James O’Neil who commented that he I remembers Benjamin Ward being seen with some residents in Crown Heights, Brooklyn and speaking to them in Yiddish, the predominant language by Jewish resident in that community.  Benjamin Ward spoke three languages, one which was German. That skill earned him an intelligence Post in the military. That skill was recognized while he was assigned to guard German soldier prisoners During WWII.  The Nazi detainees were very difficult to get information from. Ward began to speak to them in German, won their confidence and was commended for gathering sensitive information that helped in the war effort during WWII.

Mayor de Blasio thought very highly of former police commissioner Benjamin Ward. Photos Victoria Canore & Dan Miller/DMD IMAGESPhotos Victoria Canore & Dan Miller/DMD IMAGESHe commended him for taking the lead in integrating the police force with faces of new recruits who reflected the communities in which they would work. Community policing, gets high marks as well from Commissioner James O’Neil. “He also understood the meaning of neighborhood policing long before it was vogue, “ said The mayor as he pointed out that it was Police Commissioner Benjamin Ward who was first to begin neighborhood policing, getting the community to get to know those who are sworn to protect them. “We see the results of that now. Everyone here in this room has earned a part of the victory that says we are the safest city in America…. Today we have an extraordinary diverse police force and police leadership. Today we have a close relationship with community policing we have ever had. ”The mayor pointed out how “community policing is inherent in successful crime fighting.” Here is a lot to be proud of a lot to take from his example.  Alot to be inspired by. This department, the reason it so great is that it never stops improving.” The mayor commended the police force n\because, “they never stopped improving. They always ask the question, How can we go farther?”

The mayor summed up his speech, “finally I’ll say this. Everyone needs inspiration. Finally I’ll say this. We celebrate a great man, a great man whose work we still emulate today.”

Police Commissioner James O’Neil in awe about the many accomplishments achieved by former Commissioner Benjamin Ward said, “He was the first black police officer assigned to the 80th Pct. In Crown Heights,. He was the first black appointed as executive directive of the Civilian Complaint Review Board. He was the first black State Commissioner of Correctional Services. By  achieving these lofty roles that opened the door to opportunity for countless other New Yorkers.

The commissioner concluded, “His most trail blazing  accomplishment was his first African American Police Commissioner of the largest police force in the nation.” By naming this library after Ben Ward we’re honoring a man who was one of America’s first proponents of “Community Policing.”

Other speakers included First Deputy Police Commissioner Benjamin Tucker, President of John Jay College and one of Benjamin Ward’s daughters, who reiterated the strengths of her father and his strong beliefs about education and learning  being the powers to make changes happen.

A banner hangs on the wall of the newly named Police Commissioner Benjamin Ward Memorial Library at the New York City Police Academy in College Point. It reads” I have no doubt whatever remains to be done next, no other police department will be able to do it better”  Benjamin Ward.

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