BY BONNIE ROSENSTOCK | After more than three decades serving in the New York Police Department, all of it at the East Village’s 9th Precinct, Detective Jaime Hernandez retired on Tues., Jan. 31, to rousing applause from fellow officers and community members.
In an N.Y.P.D. tradition for longtime members of the force, Hernandez — a community affairs officer for much of his career — was saluted in a “walkout” in front of the E. Fifth Street station house, where the precinct’s members were mustered for the occasion.
The event was moderated by Mike Ranieri, one of the three officers who will replace Hernandez as the precinct’s community liaison. Hernandez said he handpicked the trio, “so they’re good guys.”
Pastor Rick Del Rio, the precinct’s clergy liaison, gave Hernandez a Life Application Study Bible.
“You’ll have plenty of time to read. It has all kinds of information, and in it’s in big letters,” he said, to laughter from the crowd. “As you move forward, it will give you a lot of joy and a lot of peace.”
Del Rio then gave a prayer, saying, in part, “Father, thank you so much for the joy of serving you and the joy of knowing Jaime over all these years. Thank you for his service, his faithfulness, his love, his health. After 34 years, he’s still moving, he’s still healthy, he’s got a whole lot more life ahead of him. This retirement will be a brand-new opportunity for him to excel and flourish.”
Deputy Inspector Ralph Clement, the commanding officer of the 9th, said of Hernandez, “It’s not an easy feat, what he’s accomplished. … That strong bond between community and police. He’s put out many fires before it reached your office. He doesn’t brag about it, a very modest person. … He’s a legend. He does things like Superman does for us. You’ve motivated, inspired many…been through many C.O.’s who have gone on to become chief. A little of you will be with them, with me. Your teachings, your legacy lives on in myself and a lot of people in the department.”
Paul DiGiacomo, the president of the Detectives Endowment Association union, recalled the two young 9th Precinct officers — Gregory Foster, 22, and Rocco Laurie, 23 — gunned down 50 years ago at 11th Street and Avenue B by Black Liberation Army members. He also referenced Operation Pressure Point, when police in 1984 cracked down on rempant, street-level drug dealing in the East Village by deploying a virtual “army of occupation.”
“This is a very historic precinct, Foster and Laurie…Alphabet City, Pressure Point, apprehension of the subway shooter [Frank James] and Detective Jaime Hernandez,” DiGiacomo said. “We’re going to miss him. You put many hours into helping this community — now it’s time to take care of yourself and your family.”
On behalf of the 18,000 active and retired N.Y.P.D. detectives, he presented Hernandez with a certificate of retirement.
Neil Barsky, president of the 9th Precinct Community Council, praised Hernandez’s selfless dedication.
“As a member of the community, I want to say thank you for everything you’ve done for us and this community over your 34 years,” Bersky said. “For me, personally, you’ve been a great adviser. When Jerry Shea stepped down and I became president of this council, you were there to help me and guide me through what it was to be a part of this community and be a liaison between the 9th Precinct and this community. Over the years, you’ve always put the community first, the officers and the N.Y.P.D., before yourself. I want to thank you for that. Enjoy your well-earned retirement.”
A member of the Islamic Council of America, from the Madina Mosque, at 401 E. 11th St., presented the retiring detective with a bouquet of red roses.
“I’d like to thank you for your service and support,” he told Hernandez. “We highly appreciate your service. And we pray for you.”
At one point, longtime local activist Barbara Caporale ran up and presented Hernandez with a heart-shaped box of chocolates, telling him, “For giving us your heart.”
Hernandez gave farewell remarks, then ceremonially got into a special green N.Y.P.D. cruiser, as if to drive off — then got back out again to receive the accolades and plaques.
“We’re paying for this car by the hour, so…” Ranieri had quipped.
“I hope when I leave that this relationship stays the same,” Hernandez said of the strong precinct-community connection that he helped forge during his years at the 9th. “That’s important because, if we don’t have a relationship with the precinct, we can’t get things done. From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate everyone who is here today.”
There was a big reception in the precinct, with lots of food, beverages and desserts, and lots of appreciation for Hernandez and his long and distinguished career.