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Police precinct 108 names a new commanding officer

Deputy Inspector Powers

April 28, 2013 By Christian Murray

The commanding office of the police precinct that covers Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside is being replaced.

Deputy Inspector Donald Powers, who has been in charge of the 108 Police Precinct since June 2010, is no longer working at the precinct, according to police.

Powers leaves at a time when the crime rate has been on the decline. In 2012, the number of reported crimes in the precinct dropped 6% compared to 2011.

(addition) In November, Powers was promoted from Captain to Deputy Inspector.

During his tenure there have been several high profile crimes—from the subway pusher at the 40th Street station last December; the murder of a drunk man at a Long Island City gas station in September; to the unsolved, arguably bungled investigation of the Lou Rispoli murder case in Sunnyside last October.

“Nobody is perfect and no tenure is perfect,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, speaking about Powers time at the precinct. However, “over all in terms of keeping crime low and being responsive to the community he has done a good job.”

Powers has been replaced by Captain Brian Hennessey, who was previously the executive officer at the 115th Precinct, which covers East Elmhurst, North Corona and Jackson Heights.

In the three years that Powers led the command, there were several persistent problems—from gropings, burglaries to tire theft. However, the number of these incidents has declined in recent months.

The police did not provide a reason for Powers’ departure. However, his 3 year stint is consistent with other commanding officers who have held the top job. His immediate predecessor, Captain Thomas Kavanagh, was in charge of the precinct for 3 ½ years.

However, Powers leaves at a time when one outstanding issue remains.

The community—as well as Van Bramer—still want to know why it took the precinct 36 hours to send investigators to the Sunnyside location (41-00 43rd Ave.) where Rispoli was brutally attacked.

Rispoli was struck in the back of the head with a blunt object shortly after 2:15 am Saturday Oct.20—dying five days later from the injuries he sustained. Investigators didn’t arrive at the crime scene until late Sunday afternoon.

The NYPD launched an internal investigation into the precinct’s handling of the case in November; it has not released its findings.

Weeks after the murder, Van Bramer spoke before Community Board 2, and said: “I have talked to Captain Powers and there are a lot of unanswered questions about the investigation. “

However, Van Bramer said yesterday: “I do not hold him personally responsible for the mistakes and the errors that were made at the scene of the crime—since I know for a fact he was not working that night.”

Van Bramer said he would be speaking to Powers about the status of the internal affairs investigation on Monday and if there have been no new developments he would speak to the NYPD’s top brass to find out why.

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