A LIAISON FOR THE COMMUNITY
BRAVEST & FINEST As a community affairs officer for the 24th police precinct, Officer Betsy Gonzalez serves as a liaison between the police department and the surrounding Upper West Side community. Her beat includes the area that falls between Central Park and the Hudson, from West 86th to 110th streets. "I'm a West Side girl. I was actually born and raised on the West Side, so when I got assigned to this command I was very happy because it was an area I knew," Gonzalez said. Though Gonzalez herself has since moved out of the neighborhood, her parents still live in the area. Gonzalez and her fellow community affairs officer perform their duties mostly in civilian attire, attending community meetings, visiting schools and hospitals and fielding quality-of-life concerns, such as noise issues, that neighborhood residents might have. She and her partner recently stopped by an area school that had requested that police speak about how to keep kids safe at Halloween. The two also regularly drop in at neighborhood churches and synagogues to check in with leaders there. "Sometimes it's just a quick hello to see how things are going," Gonzalez said. The officer has been in the precinct for nine years, since graduating as part of the New York Police Academy class of 1999. She previously worked in the domestic violence unit and therefore has a specialty in that area. Gonzalez said her current post is a good fit for her temperament. "I definitely enjoy working with people-I'm that type of person," she said. "It's rewarding meeting people every day and being able to answer people's questions. Any way that I can help, I'll do it." Officer Lisa Mendoza, who used to work with Gonzalez in the domestic violence unit, cites Gonzalez's willingness to do all she can. "She was a very, very helpful person," Mendoza said. "She was always going out of her way to help someone regardless of what she had to do." Over the summer, a big responsibility for Upper West Side community affairs officers is helping to coordinate logistics and security for the street fairs that occur just about every weekend. Gonzalez's adeptness at balancing the concerns of many groups has impressed Lieutenant Matthew Bases. "Especially during the summer with all the street fair and the parades-almost every weekend she's doing something where some aspect of the community is looking for a little special help," Bases said. "She's trying to make one group happy, and obviously there are groups that aren't happy because they're getting the streets closed and they're losing parking. She's got to be doing a juggling act so she's able to make everybody happy." Bases went on, "I think the community is very lucky to have her. She's an untapped resource for many in the community-they really should reach out more."
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