Getting Out of Dodge

Young cops in Far Rockaway recite the NYPD blues and try to flee to suburban jobs

"When you get on this job, and that's all you ever see, you almost get biased," Bonsignore says. Some longtime residents say the lack of positive connection with the NYPD has worsened the area's gang problems.

"Some of the teens here feel messed with," says Chaleene Nash, a Parks Department employee who runs the Sorrentino Recreation Center, named in honor of an officer from the 101st Precinct who was killed in the line of duty in 1980.

Deoliveira and Bonsignore aren't always detached. Toward the end of the shift, they patrol the stairwells in public-housing high-rises and occasionally come in contact with tenants. In one building, they ride up in the elevator—it's working that day. Then they take the stairs down, peering around corners with guns at the ready. Gangs use the stairwells for drug sales.

"Please, please, don't rob me!" Deoliveira jokes to a middle-aged woman carrying groceries to her third-floor apartment. He raises his arms in mock surrender.

"I'm just hoping nobody rob me," the woman says, shaking her head.

Afterward, what Deoliveira says in reflecting on his job shows that his own barriers are up. "You can't feel bad for anybody," he says. "You'd go crazy. You can't bring it home with you. Just be thankful it's not your family."

He added: "And do whatever you can to find a way out."

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