Villager photo by Shoshanna Bettencourt
Captain Raymond Caroli at the Sixth Precinct says he has “always wanted to get criminals off the streets.”
New Sixth top cop to target quality-of-life issues
By Albert Amateau
Captain Raymond Caroli, new commanding officer of the Sixth Precinct, is no stranger to the Village.
Before he assumed command of the Greenwich Village precinct on Jan. 24, he served as the Sixth’s executive officer the second in command for two years under Deputy Inspector Theresa Shortell. And before that, he spent two years as executive officer of the 10th precinct, which covers Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen just north of the Village.
Although he grew up in Hamilton Heights near City College, Caroli has deep roots in the neighborhood where he is now the top cop. He was born in St. Vincent’s Hospital and his father was born on Sullivan St.
“I believe that quality-of-life issues are deeply connected to broader crime problems, especially in a neighborhood like this,” he told The Villager in an interview last week.
Caroli cited the historic trouble spots: drug dealing marijuana and crack in Washington Square Park; street prostitution between Washington and Greenwich Sts.; and disorderly crowds from bars and clubs there are more than 500 licensed premises in the precinct.
Regarding the impact of prostitution on the West Village, the captain observed that many prostitutes have been involved as suspects and victims in robberies and assaults.
“People have the right not to be inundated by prostitutes and their customers when they walk out of their homes,” Caroli said.
The precinct’s cabaret unit, with 16 officers and two sergeants, has the task of policing areas like Bleecker and MacDougal Sts. and the Gansevoort Meat Market, where bars and clubs draw thousands of patrons.
“The West Village is a major tourist destination for people from the city and all over the world, and I don’t want people with crime on their minds to think it’s easy to commit crimes here because of the atmosphere,” Caroli said. He cited the crowds of gay youth and others who gather on the waterfront at Christopher St. during the warm months.
“They’re welcome as long as they observe the law,” he said. “I’ll have zero tolerance for quality-of-life violations.” Disorderly summer crowds along Christopher St. between W. Fourth St. and Sixth Ave. can be serious problems because they set a tone that the area is out of control, he added.
Caroli met with block association representatives and other community leaders the first week that he assumed command of the precinct.
“I took over on Tuesday and by Friday I met with most of them,” he recalled. “I wanted to reach out to them first.”
Caroli, 43, grew up on W. 135th St., where he recalled playing street games as a schoolboy.
“It was a very bad area,” he said. But the influence of his parents and the Catholic schools he attended, Annunciation on W. 133rd St. and Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx, gave him the discipline and values that still guide him, he said.
After high school he spent time in an Army Reserve unit and then attended Empire State College and Borough of Manhattan Community College in Lower Manhattan where he earned a bachelor’s degree. Caroli is married and has a son, 15, and a daughter, 10. He runs for recreation and ran his first marathon last year.
At the age of 21 he applied for the Police Academy.
“I’ve always wanted to get criminals off the streets,” he said.
He served for a few years in the 120th Precinct on Staten Island, then made sergeant and served in Coney Island. As a lieutenant, he served in Washington Heights, and in 2004 he became a captain and went to the 10th Precinct.
“I’ve always served in a patrol capacity working in the street, and I still do it,” he said. Having command of a precinct is an awesome responsibility, he said. “I want to build on the progress we’ve made under the tutelage of Inspector Shortell,” he added. Shortell, who was commanding officer of the precinct since October 2004, is now commanding officer of the Police Department’s Special Victims Unit.
The Sixth Precinct has 143 police officers, including supervisors and administrators.
“We have 129 ready to go out the door to do God’s work,” said Caroli, the inveterate street cop.