Taking the time to meet with local news outlets, the new Commanding Officer of the 71st Precinct, Deputy Inspector Norman Grandstaff, introduced himself and answered questions about his plan and outlook for Crown Heights.
Inspector Grandstaff introduced himself by saying he is 41 years old, and had been with the police department for 17 and a half years.
Most recently, he served as the Commanding Officer of the 69th Precinct in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn. “[There] I did a good job fighting crime and increasing good relations between the police and the community, as well as building a good rapport,” He said.
Detailing his career in the department, he said “the Majority of my career was in Brooklyn, both north and south.”
He detailed his postings as serving first in Manhattan’s 13th Precinct for a year and a half after graduating the academy, then transferring to the 79th Precinct in Brooklyn for two years, where he was promoted to Sergeant. He then spent four and a half years in the 70th Precinct, where he was promoted to Lieutenant.
Grandstaff was then promoted to Captain while serving 3 years in the 88th Precinct, after which he was transferred to the 90th Precinct in Williamsburg for eight months. He did another two years in the 75th precinct as the Executive Officer, and finally another two years in the 69th Precinct as the Commanding Officer – before arriving in the 71st Precinct.
“I am married and have three children; I am the oldest of five brothers – three of whom are cops, so I guess it is a family business,” he quipped.
All four of the Grandstaff brothers are decorated veterans of the NYPD, having received the Police Combat Cross and Medal for Valor for their dedication to the job and protecting the citizens of New York City.
In 2002, then a police officer in Brooklyn North, he pursued on foot, struggled with and apprehended a perpetrator who had fired upon police with a 9-millimeter high-capacity machine gun. Then-Officer Grandstaff and two other responding officers also recovered the gun. This was in the confines of the 79th Precinct.
“I really look forward to working with the community, I think that makes it possible for us to have success. We all want the same thing – we want to be safe and have better quality of life in all our neighborhoods, and we are here for you.
“My plan [as commanding officer] is to be responsive and available.
“People wonder, is this [commending officer] coming in going to be a crime guy or a community guy? My thing is everything – I think you have to focus on everything in order to be successful,” he said.
Fielding a question on ‘gentrification’ and if that at all impacts the attitude of the police department towards the neighborhood, Grandstaff said that policing is both proactive and reactive, and the police are here for everyone. “We will provide the same police service to everyone regardless of the financial status, race, orientation and creed,” he said.
Asked about what he thinks of the state of the precinct, he said “I think Inspector Fitzgibbon did an unbelievable job in his two and a half years in the 71st. He brought down crime and I inherited a really well run precinct. Crime is on the downturn, and that’s due to the hard work of the cops.”
When asked what he learned about the Jewish community in his so-far brief time here, he said that the Jewish community is extremely united and that they care and are there for each other. “I think we work well with the Jewish community, as well as all communities within the 71st precinct.”
Comparing Canarsie to Crown Heights, he said people there are hardworking middle class people and there is also a really big West Indian community, and his successful time there will enable him to be successful here as well.
“People are people wherever you are, they want to feel safe and they want to know that the police are there for them,” he said.
He then took the time to praise his community affairs unit, saying from his experience in seven different precincts that they are unbelievable and would be by far the best. He praised Sargent Kelley, Detective Martinos, Officers Bulzoni and Taylor, saying “I know that they work really well with the community, and they are the most dedicated.”