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Captain Nancy Barry – Feeling Right at Home in the 7th Precinct

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Captain Nancy Barry, at right, with toy giveaway volunteers, and Community Council President, Don West at left. Photo courtesy of Michael Mowery (www.michaelmowery.com)

Last month, I stopped by the 7th Precinct for a chat with Captain Nancy Barry, who took over as commanding officer last spring. It was a quiet afternoon, just before the holidays. Accompanied by Community Affairs Officer Nicky Teo, we sat in a back room, discussing the holiday toy giveaway that was to be held that weekend – and reminiscing about the good ol’ days in New York City’s second smallest precinct. It turns out Barry has some deep roots on the Lower East Side.

Back in 1981, as a rookie police officer, she rotated among several Lower Manhattan locations, including the 7th. Barry says she looks back fondly at those days – and was thrilled to return to the neighborhood three decades later. Most recently, she was the commanding officer of Police Service Area 9, responsible for the public housing developments in Queens. She’s one of 46 women to have risen to the level of captain or above in the NYPD.

The 7th Precinct covers .62 square miles – south of Houston and east of Allen Street. They work closely with Police Service Area 4, the precinct handling the housing projects in Lower Manhattan, as well as the 9th Precinct (above Houston) and the 5th Precinct (west of Allen). In the past year, the 7th has continued to adapt to a changing neighborhood. Captain Barry’s officers have worked with Community Board 3 to manage the large (and sometimes unruly) weekend crowds that descend on Ludlow, Clinton and Orchard Streets. The 7th has played a major role in dealing with the Chinatown bus problem, which has created traffic and other “quality of life” issues for residents all over the Lower East Side. In a precinct in which violent crimes have sunk to historic lows, the largest category of crime (by far) is grand larceny (theft of property or money valued at $1000 or more). There were 269 cases in 2009.

Every month, Captain Barry gets together with residents at the 7th Precinct Community Council meeting. Held in all 76 precincts citywide, the gatherings give police officers and residents a chance to, as the NYPD’s web site puts it, “discuss and find solutions to public-safety problems in their neighborhood.” The meetings are led by Community Council President Don West. In addition to updates from Barry, the sessions usually include reports from elected officials. Councilmember Margaret Chin came to the most recent meeting.

As our conversation wound down, we chatted about the convergence of community-based policing and community news online.  I explained one of our major objectives in starting The Lo-Down was to provide a venue for elected officials, the community board, non-profits and arts organizations to get the word out (almost instantaneously) about events, new programs and special accomplishments. In the months ahead, we look forward to assisting the 7th Precinct in disseminating breaking news, posting crime bulletins and spreading the word about their outreach events in the community.

The 7th Precinct Community Council meetings are held the second Wednesday of each month, at 7pm.  The precinct address is 19 Pitt Street (Delancey). If you would like to reach the community affairs office, call 212-477-7301.

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