The Public Safety Committee Bids Farewell to the Chief

Public Safety Chief Jack McManus, who has served as Chief of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation’s (RIOC) Public Safety Department (PSD) since June of 2013, will officially retire on June 30. His deputy, Kevin Brown, will serve as Acting Chief until a permanent replacement is announced.

The first lovefest between outgoing Chief Jack McManus and the Island community took place last Tuesday, after the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation Board meeting at a Roosevelt Island Residents Association Public Safety Committee (PSC) meeting billed as a way to thank Chief McManus for his dedication to the Island community, and the productive relationship developed through his community-policing initiatives. (The second lovefest will take place at the Manhattan Park Theater Club on July 24 at 6:00 p.m.).

PSC Chair Erin Feely-Nahem embraces Chief McManus while Deputy Brown claps

Many Islanders teared up in delivering their testimonials to the Chief, whose six-year tenure on the Island brought us a reprieve from a zero-tolerance style of policing we had previously. Adib Mansour recollected how prior to McManus’ arrival, he’d tell his children to “watch out for Public Safety.” Another Islander, Sasha Ross, expressed gratitude to McManus for walking her older son through his teen years without incident. When McManus responded, “He is a good boy; he never got into trouble,” many in the group could be heard remarking that under his predecessor, Kieth Guerra, good didn’t matter.

McManus himself explained he was able to achieve real community policing because we are a low-crime area. Saying, “I can’t tell you what this community means to me.” He credited the public safety committee meetings for a lot of his success. “We got things done because of mutual trust and respect for other people’s opinions. We made policy from some of the conversations we’ve had in here,” he said, about the committee meetings. “We couldn’t have gotten anywhere without the support of the community.”

McManus’ approach was a marked departure of former Chief Keith Guerra, whose tactics inspired rallies and marches, and was described by long-time Roosevelt Island Residents Association Public Safety Committee Chair Erin Feely-Nahem as “philosophy of zero tolerance and maximum enforcement.”

Guerra’s departure was ultimately announced on June 14, 2013 after a rally organized by the Public Safety Committee, a day after McManus’ first day – he attended Roosevelt Island Day 2013 to “get a feel for the community.” The objective of that rally was to oust Guerra and get justice for the victims of the abuse suffered under him.

Since announcing he had a World Trade Center derived illness, McManus has been on the Island two days a week.

His bosses at RIOC will also be sad to see him go. RIOC President Susan Rosenthal and Chief Operating Officer Shelton Haynes attended the PSC meeting. Rosenthal fondly recounted the “therapy sessions” she would hold for McManus and Brown in her office. Haynes talked about expectations, accountability and integrity and said of McManus, “He meets all of those.”

At the meeting, McManus recommended Brown, who he’s known for 30 years, for the top job. He said, “He cares about the officers and he doesn’t hesitate to give them counsel when necessary.” Brown has made some significant contributions to the department himself, including enhanced training in community focused areas. Before coming to the Island more than three years ago, Acting Chief Brown was a thirty-two-year veteran of the New York Police Department, including serving as a training officer for his last ten years. He held other roles within the NYPD as well, including serving as the commanding officer of the Operations Division during the 9/11 tragedy.

“(Kevin) has a solid commitment to the Roosevelt Island community,” outgoing Chief McManus said in a recent press release. “His main goal is to continue to keep everyone safe and help improve the quality of life on the Island.”

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