NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – With a spike in shootings comparable to the 1990s, an NYPD detective is sharing what she saw leading up to her retirement last week.
“Thank you for letting me be your mom,” First Grade Detective Veronica Correa said at her retirement last week. She was brought to tears.
The 47-year-old started in 1994 in the 83rd precinct in Bushwick. She’s from Far Rockaway.
“I grew up In such a bad neighborhood. So I wanted to make change,” she told CBS2’s Lisa Rozner.
As a rookie, she was writing a ticket when she says a young gang member was fatally shot by a 15-year-old.
“We’re talking for maybe 20 minutes, all of a sudden, while I’m talking to him, he just died,” Correa said. “So for me it was ‘Wow – this is real. Wow – there is no regard for human life.'”
But Correa says through community policing, and later as an undercover, things improved. Since 1999, she mentored others at the tactical training facility on City Island.
What did she teach them?
“Executing search warrants, active shooters,” she said.
“I get right past 241st Street and I hear numerous shots. So I look at my supervisor and I go ‘Those are shots. Are you kidding me, its daytime out,'” she said. “And then we’re out there the next day and people were just shooting all night long. It was just all night long, shooting.”
Correa was deeply affected by the breakdown in relations between cops and community. She was so worried while in uniform she did not eat on the job, Rozner reported.
“I never felt so uncomfortable being in uniform.. like I walk into a gasoline station, and a guy said to me real quietly, ‘Listen, we don’t all hate you,'” Correa said. “Then I walk a couple steps further and an older gentlemen told ‘I wish you f******* dropped dead.'”
The single mom says she wanted to stay to help her brothers and sisters in blue, but her daughter asked her to come home..
“I was afraid of getting killed or losing my pension,” she said.
The head of the Detectives Endowment Association says recently changed laws on how to restrain someone is why he believes almost half of the recent retirees are detectives.
“If you’re in a violent struggle, it’s very difficult to not touch from the neck to the waist during the struggle. It’s a very difficult task to do,” said Paul DiGiacomo of the Detectives Endowment Association.
And the expertise of detectives in units like crime scene, counterterrorism and cold case investigations can’t be replaced.
Correa, who’s affectionately known as “Mama Bear,” says her love for the city won’t stop. She just has to adjust to lending her support from the sidelines.