Queens native to receive “Cop of the Year” award
by Benjamin Fang
Feb 13, 2019 | 9924 views | 0 0 comments | 241 241 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After a nearly 30-year career in the NYPD, Howard Beach native Leonard O’Toole will soon retire from the force with a bang.

On Thursday, February 28, the 104th Precinct Community Council will honor O’Toole at its Fourth Annual Cop of the Year award dinner..

The fourth annual award dinner event, which raises funds for the precinct and the community council, will take place at 6:30 p.m. at the Knockdown Center in Maspeth.

O’Toole joined the Police Department in April 1990, and has spent his entire career with the 104th Precinct. When he retires in April 2020, he will have completed three full decades, including 20 years of perfect attendance.

His consistency, reliability and strong connection to the community are among the reasons why he is being honored later this month.

“I’m on cloud nine, it’s a prestigious honor,” O’Toole said in an interview this paper. “I’m still in shock.”

O’Toole began his career in the Field Training Unit, following by a stint in a Special Conditions patrol post. He served two years in the Community Policing Unit and four years as a Crime Prevention officer.

For a decade, the Howard Beach native was the planning officer and school crossing guard coordinator for the precinct, a role he continues today.

Based on his experiences, O’Toole said police and community should always work hand-in-hand.

“You can’t do it by yourself, it has to be a partnership,” he said. “If you don’t have the community behind you, you don’t have anything.”

O’Toole credited the community’s support for his own success. Throughout his decades-long career, he has run programs to engage different segments of the community, including Operation Safe Return for seniors and Project Joy for young people.

He also played an integral role in creating drug-free school zones.

Even before he began working for the NYPD –– he served as a local volunteer firefighter from 1974 to 1991 –– O’Toole had a passion for public service. He said he’s always been community-oriented, which is the key to his success.

“You have to like what you want to do,” he said. “What can you do to help somebody? That was my thing.”

When O’Toole retires in 2020, he will be 62 years old, reaching the NYPD’s mandatory retirement age. He plans to return to the West Hamilton Beach Volunteer Fire Department to help out.

He will also spend his time fishing and riding his motorcycle.

“I’ve got to keep myself active,” he said.

Thinking about retiring is sometimes scary and sad, O’Toole said. He said he doesn’t want to lose contact with the many leaders, peers and community residents he has met throughout the years.

But he will also depart with a sense of accomplishment. O’Toole said he feels his career has gone well, and he has left his mark on the community.

“I leave on a good note,” he said.

On February 28, O’Toole will be honored along with the Kiwanis Club of Ridgewood. When he began his career in 1991, he was honored by the Kiwanis Club as their Cop of the Month. Now, they’re being honored together.

O’Toole said he was grateful for his commanding officer for allowing him to work with the community, and his family for supporting his career in the NYPD.

Many of his family members will be attending the ceremony. When he retires, he looks forward to spending time with his wife, two children and three grandchildren.

“That’s my pride and joy,” O’Toole said.

For more information on the event or how to purchase tickets, visit the 104th Precinct Community Council page on Facebook.
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