“I have many great people working with me, but at the end of this meeting, I want everyone to talk to me,” Captain Fausto Pichardo told several dozen Washington Heights residents at his first Community Council meeting. Two hours later, at 9 p.m., Pichardo hadn’t left the precinct, and was still speaking with the last few neighbors who had lined up to share their concerns.
In September, Dominican-born Pichardo became the first Latino to head a Washington Heights police precinct. Hispanics, especially Dominicans, welcomed his appointment to captain of the 33rd precinct as a community victory.
“If anything, this triumph comes too late, since Dominicans have been in Washington Heights for over 50 years,” said José Luis Cordero, the Dominican-born owner of a travel agency on West 165th Street. “We are finally achieving positions of power and those people can make decisions that benefit our community.” The relationship between Dominicans and the police, Cordero said, “is pretty rigid, and it’s time that our children stop needing to be afraid when they see a cop come.”