NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – What’s the state of New York City today?
In a rare interview, CBS2’s Maurice DuBois spoke with the second in command of the NYPD.
First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker, a New York City native, has a unique perspective on protecting our city and our country.
“November 21, 1969, I was sworn in as a police trainee and I thought ‘I’m going to be the best cop that I can be’,” Tucker told DuBois.
Nearly 50 years later, it’s this same attitude that’s landed Tucker at 1 Police Plaza as the NYPD’s second in command.
“How do you tell parents that your kids are going to come home, they’re going to be safe?” DuBois asked.
“Safety in the schools is not just about preventing violence,” Tucker said.
Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Tucker served as the Executive for School Safety and Planning. He says he doesn’t believe arming teachers is the answer. Metal detectors, he says, can sometimes create more tension in students.
“You create an environment where people know who the teachers are, who the principals are, students feel safe if Mr. Jones says ‘Hey Johnny, how are you,'” Tucker said. “Little things matter.”
“This job is about people, and compassion, and empathy,” Tucker said.
“What was your impression of cops growing up in Bed-Stuy?” DuBois asked.
“They used to hassle us,” Tucker said.
“So you didn’t have a real positive view of cops?” DuBois asked.
“Not those cops,” Tucker replied.
Just last month, the NYPD rolled out a new eight hour course called “Implicit Bias Training.” It’s designed to help every officer recognize the stereotypes that may affect decision making.
“We want to make them aware so that they can be conscious of it and not allow these biases to influence their judgment when they have encounters with our citizens,” Tucker explained.
“You lived in other parts of the country. Do you understand the gun culture, the second amendment advocates?” DuBois asked.
“We’ve spent our time, the officers in this department, putting their lives on the line every day taking guns off the street,” Tucker said.
He’s very concerned about new legislation that will allow individuals from other states who are licensed to carry a concealed weapon in those states to be able to carry one here.
“That’s insane. That’s what the law says, you can get a gun elsewhere, bring it here, and it’s perfectly legal, and it makes no sense,” Tucker said.
In the 1990’s, President Bill Clinton tapped Tucker to oversee the office of community-oriented policing. In 2009, he was called back to Washington by President Barack Obama to direct the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
But it’s New York that’s his home.
“My family, we all lived in the same house on Putnam Avenue. And when I say ‘we all’: My grandparents, my mother’s sister and her sons, my mother’s other sister,” Tucker said. “That upbringing is a large part of who I am. And they cared about politics. They cared about education and they cared about treating people with respect. So I think that becoming a police officer made sense to me.”
“What would they say?” DuBois asked.
“They called me Little Benny, so they’d probably be saying ‘Look at Little Benny,’ all of those folks, you know, sitting up in the clouds, just cheering.”
Not one to cheer himself, Tucker attributes the plunge in crime in the city to levels not seen since the 1950s to the nearly 40,000 men and women in uniform.
“Strangers thank me for what’s happening in their communities, but they’re not thanking me, they’re thanking the department,” Tucker said.
He acknowledges there’s still a lot of work to be done, but as long as he and the rest of the force can’t wait to get out of bed in the morning it’ll get done, DuBois reported.
“I come here early and leave late, still love it. And when that stops, then I’m out.”