Juniper Park Civic to honor former 104th captain

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The association will also honor City...

By Dustin Brown

One year after the removal of Capt. Joseph Culbert from his post as commander of the 104th Precinct, the Juniper Park Civic Association will present him with an appreciation award at its Thursday night meeting.

The association will also honor City Comptroller and mayoral candidate Alan Hevesi with its Man of the Year award.

During his first months on the job, the community lauded Capt. Culbert for his role in dramatically reducing local crime.

His initiatives included organizing sweeps for truant high school students, who Culbert found were frequently responsible for daytime robberies and grand larcenies.

The popular police captain was removed in April 2000 shortly after then-borough supervisor Deputy Chief Dewey Fong received a voice message that ended with an officer recounting an offensive story about him. The conversation was accidentally recorded when the cell phone Culbert was using failed to disconnect.

The officer described how the desk sergeant at another Queens precinct mistook Fong, who is Chinese-American, for a deliveryman when he entered the station house wearing a white jacket and carrying a paper bag.

Culbert was reassigned as supervisor of the Brooklyn North Investigation Squad, a position he still holds.

The community strongly protested Culbert’s removal, demanding that tapes of the message be released and an explanation provided for the removal of a commander who had achieved a 17 percent reduction in crime after only three months.

Although the press originally reported Culbert was removed for having made racial slurs, Juniper Park President Robert Holden said race was never mentioned in the recorded conversation.

“We lost a great captain based on information that was false,” Holden said. “If he did say anything racial, of course he should have been removed, but he didn’t.”

Culbert refused to sign a disciplinary statement admitting he had participated in racial slurs against Fong. The document he finally agreed to sign in October stated “Culbert failed to stop or admonish a fellow officer who told a story that was offensive to the Deputy Chief.”

Although Holden said it is unlikely Culbert would be brought back to the precinct, he and the community are still waiting for the Police Department to explain why Culbert was removed.

“They still owe the community an explanation,” Holden said. “We still want that as to why a very talented captain was removed after only three months.”

Hevesi will also be honored Thursday with the JPCA’s Man of the Year award.

Although it has been seven years since he served as Middle Village’s assemblyman, Hevesi has never lost touch with his original constituents, who note that success has not gone to his head.

“We didn’t know what to expect” when Hevesi was elected comptroller, Holden said. “He was just the same person. We’d come visit him, and he’d talk to us again like he was our assemblyman in our office.”

The meeting will be held Thursday, April 26, at 7:45 p.m. at the Our Lady of Hope Auditorium, on Eliot Avenue and 71st Street in Middle Village.

Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.

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