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BY COLIN MIXSON
The city’s fastest-growing neighborhood is now protected by one of the NYPD’s fastest-rising officers.
Lower Manhattan’s First Police Precinct got a new commanding officer earlier this month, and it turns out he’s something of a prodigy.
Captain Angel Figueroa has enjoyed a meteoric rise through the ranks, which took him from patrolman to the upper echelons the NYPD brass in little more than a decade — and if that’s not a record, it’s got to be close, the precinct’s new CO said.
“It’s very fast,” said Figueroa. “In total it was 10 years, three months. It’s not the fastest ever, but its definitely one of them.”
Figueroa started out as a patrolman in 2005, but he wouldn’t attain the rank of sergeant until 2011, after scoring well on a highly competitive civil service exam to qualify for the supervisory rank, he said.
And after that, Figueroa rose through the ranks at a blistering speed. He made Lieutenant two years later, and by 2015 he was toting a captain’s insignia and began serving as second in command in a succession of Manhattan precincts, including the 9th and 10th precincts, and at Midtown South before taking over as leader of a special police unit tasked with protecting Times Square.
And while Figueroa benefits from an academic mind — he taught courses on police science and criminal justice at John Jay College as an adjunct professor before making captain — the First Precinct’s new CO says there’s another, better reason to explain his quick ascent through the ranks. He wanted to make a difference.
“The biggest drive was me being a family man and knowing what I wanted,” Figueroa said. “Being a supervisor in the NYPD, to have the most effect on peoples lives, not only on the community, but to have a positive effect on my officers and subordinates, that was the driving factor. It’s the ‘want’ factor.”
Figueroa, who started at the Downtown police precinct on May 3, has spent the past few weeks getting to know his new command, beginning with the officers serving under him, before moving on to study issues affecting the community, he said.
In Lower Manhattan, the criminal landscape is dominated by grand larcenies, which is the theft of any property above $1,000, and is a criminal enterprise fueled largely by the relative ease in shoplifting small, but pricey items from the many upscale fashion boutiques and other high-end stores throughout the area.
“It’s definitely a precinct that’s driven by grand larceny, there’s no doubt about it,” the captain said. “Mostly out of retail stores and pharmacy chains — high-cost property that’s being stolen, that can be easy to conceal. You walk out with a belt that’s over a $1,000, it’s a grand larceny.”
But Figueroa said he wants to pay special attention to the precinct’s recently launched neighborhood policing program, a department-wide attempt to put a new spin on the classic beat cop, and which the captain became familiar with during his service at the 9th Precinct, where he presided over the program’s rollout in the Lower East Side.
Figueroa described the program as a potent tool for gathering intelligence from shopkeepers and residents, especially when it comes to combating everyday quality-of-life issues that plague the fastest growing residential community in New York City.
“I’m definitely looking to address quality of life issues,” Figueroa said. “My NCO’s are going to be tasked with doing graffiti cleanups, they’re going to be tasked with addressing a various quality of life issues, which could include unlicensed vendors.”