Rodney Harrison makes history as 1st African-American NYPD Chief of Detectives

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- From the streets of Jamaica, Queens, to one of the highest offices in the NYPD, Rodney Harrison is making history as the department's first African-American Chief of Detectives.

Harrison says experience counts for a lot, which has everything to do with his promotion at NYPD headquarters in Lower Manhattan Thursday.

"I had negative interactions with police officers growing up," Harrison said. "I'm now in a position to make sure we build those relationships, strengthen those relationships."

Harrison said he will draw on his own life experiences and his lengthy resume to guide the department's 5,000 detectives not only to solve crimes, but to build trust in the communities they serve.

"I want to make sure one of the things we do is strengthen those relationships, where people are willing to come forward to help conduct these investigations," Harrison said.

It's a page from the playbook of his predecessor, now Commissioner Dermot Shea, who also promoted Assistant Chief Fausto Pichardo, a Dominican New Yorker, to Chief of Patrol.

"I certainly am aware of and consider diversity, but I'm concerned about the best man or woman for the job, and I think we've done that," Shea said.

In his 27 years with the department most notably, Harrison has commanded two precincts, the detectives of Brooklyn North and the NYPD's patrol division.

He's open with reporters when he can be and hopes they understand when answers could compromise an investigation.

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