Detective to be honored as ‘Cop of the Year’
by Patrick Kearns
Jan 25, 2017 | 4439 views | 0 0 comments | 35 35 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Detective Thomas Bell speaks with a member of the military at a recent communiy event.
Detective Thomas Bell speaks with a member of the military at a recent communiy event.
If you ask, you'll here a lot of the same things about Detective Thomas Bell: that he’s a caring, hardworking cop that puts the needs of the community first.

So it’s no wonder that the 104th Precinct Community Council is honoring him as the cop of the year.

“He assists the community so much,” said Deputy Inspector Mark Wacther. “It's a personal touch. So many people in the community reach out to him for various issues and he truly cares.”

Essentially, the job of a community affairs officer is to act as a link between the officers and the community.

“He takes his job to the extreme level of caring about the community and solving the problems,” Wachter said.

Residents come to Bell with a host of problems, including derelict cars on the street or disputes between neighbors. Others come to him for help with a family member who may be going down the wrong path.

“They know that, 'hey if I talk to Detective Bell, the problem's going to be solved,'” Wachter said. “And that's what he's all about. You give him a problem, he's going to solve it.”

He also acts as a liaison between groups like the 104th Precinct Civilian Observation Patrol and the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council.

It's not just the community that relies on Bell. Wachter said cops like Bell, who know everyone in both the precinct and the community, are so valuable to commanding officers. It was nearly two years ago that Wachter came to the 104th and he immediately leaned on Bell.

“When I come in here on day one, I know no one,” he recalled. “This is the person who familiarizes themselves with the community, the dignitaries and the elected officials, and briefs me on the community issues, the hot spots and what needs to be addressed.”

Officer Edwin Collado said other cops come to Bell with problems, both personal and professional. He is especially kind as a mentor to younger cops.

“They come to the precinct and they're unaware of what's going on, especially those officers who don't have military experience,” he said. “When they go up to Detective Bell, he guides and informs them how to go about and perform their duties professionally.”

Wachter was also quick to share some of his favorite stories about Bell, which further highlighted his best characteristics as both a cop and the man behind the badge.

A few months ago, Bell was taking the subway in Manhattan when a he encountered a person on the train threatening to rob people.

“[He] took police action in the middle of a crowded train, took the person off, apprehended him,” Wachter said. “He could have just sat on the train, but he took action. There were people that feared for their lives on this train, about to get robbed by a felon.”

Over the years, the 104th Precinct formed a close bond with Wilbur Hoffman, a World War II veteran who was the victim of three home invasions. Wachter explained that the 104th sort of adopted Hoffman before he passed away last year.

But Bell and Hoffman had an especially close bond since they were both veterans, Bell having served in the Navy. Wachter said the last time Hoffman was robbed, the burglars stole the remote to his television.

“So Detective Bell bought Mr. Hoffman a remote control for his TV,” Wachter explained. “That's the kind of guy he is.”

The second annual Cop of the Year Award Dinner will take place on January 26 at Villa Erasmo, 69-61 Juniper Boulevard South, in Middle Village. The Glendale Kiwanis Club will also be honored as “Community Partner of the Year
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