Rye’s New Police Commissioner Speaks Frankly and Carries a Big Agenda

COMMISSIONER CORCORAN DSC 2208Michael Corcoran has only been at the helm of the Rye Police Department for four months, but in that time he’s cast a wide net of things to accomplish, from building better communication with the community to ensuring consistent enforcement.

 

 

By Tom McDermott and Robin Jovanovich

 

COMMISSIONER CORCORAN DSC 2208Michael Corcoran has only been at the helm of the Rye Police Department for four months, but in that time he’s cast a wide net of things to accomplish, from building better communication with the community to ensuring consistent enforcement.

 

Having seen him speak at City Council and Chamber of Commerce meetings as well as at the recent community forum on teen alcohol and drug use, it’s safe to say Corcoran “shoots from the hip.” He is straightforward, professional, compassionate, and clear-headed.

 

When he sat down for an hour-long interview with the paper earlier this month, it was soon apparent that the Commissioner had made a point of reaching out to every part of the community to listen to their concerns and assure them that he was addressing them. “I want the community to see us as allies, not adversaries,” he told us.

 

Police work isn’t new to Corcoran; he has been doing it for 26 years, most recently in West Orange, N.J. He worked in a much larger department there — 100 officers compared to Rye’s current 32 — and dealt with “urban issues in a suburban setting.” The accessibility of drugs was a big challenge, he said, but “It is here too. We have several active investigations in Rye.”

 

Corcoran made a point of meeting with the families of the young Rye men who’ve died from drug overdoses in recent months.

 

“My job is to make sure we don’t lose any more kids to drug overdoses,” said Corcoran, the father of three boys. “Drinking is not a rite of passage. Underage parties are not okay.” He added, “We’re all accountable for teen behavior.”

 

The Commissioner met recently with School Superintendent Dr. Frank Alvarez and they talked at length about how the Rye Police Department can help to stem the drug tide. “We talked about the great counseling program at St. Vincent’s. In New York, you're an adult at 16 in court. You can plead guilty to a marijuana charge, pay a fine, and your parents might not know. Judge Latwin is a pioneer on this issue. We are proposing that a plea be held until an offender has been through a St. Vincent’s program with parents. Then the charge can be removed.” Corcoran added, “We also went over policies — there is currently no drug testing of students in Westchester but the Board of Ed could allow us to bring dogs into the schools that are trained in narcotics detection.”

 

Corcoran handpicked eight RPD officers to bridge communication between the school district and law enforcement with a goal of improving school security.

 

Narcotics enforcement is front and center on Corcoran’s agenda, but so is a lot of day-to-day police work. A lot of the calls are service-related – burglar alarms, car accidents, lost pets.

 

He’s spoken to Rye seniors about their vulnerability to ever-growing scams. “The Department is looking to establish a social media platform for seniors. We tell senior citizens to call us first, and never to let a stranger in their home. We tell them never to worry about bothering us with their phone calls. That’s why we’re here.”

 

Corcoran, who has experience with emergency preparedness, has already done confined space training with the Rye Fire Department, and is in the process of helping rewrite the City’s emergency preparedness plan. “We’re getting everyone to the table and assembling Citizen Emergency Response teams.”

 

Upon hearing that the City hadn’t released traffic violation statistics in recent months, Corcoran was quick to say they would be reinstituted. “Consistent enforcement is always the goal.” He was quick to report that for the first quarter of the year the Police Department motor vehicle citations were up 88% over the same period from last year and summons activity was up 50%. “On a recent Friday, the line of people headed into the City Court was down the block and one person asked me was there a protest going on!”

 

Behind the scenes, Corcoran’s biggest impact has been on the members of the Rye PD. “I told the officers my first week that I knew they’d been in a period of transition. I also told them that I was going to work with them to streamline operations and make the Department more efficient.” He added, “I think they sensed that I genuinely care and am passionate about the job.”

 

Corcoran meets with the command staff on a daily basis. At the end of every shift, the desk supervisor emails him what transpired. “The issues are pretty much uneventful. We’re not dealing with a lot of big crime, but parking always plays into the daily equation,” said Corcoran. “We’re working on that and a lot of other challenges. I had an officer in plain clothes in a patrol vehicle with a camera and we learned quite a lot. There is always more to learn.”

 

Police Commissioner Michael Corcoran outside the downtown headquarters on McCullough Place