Jack Maple is remembered as being hard on crime, soft in life and sharply dressed in a bowler-hat, bow tie and double-breasted sport coat. On Monday, the humble Queens origins of the former Deputy Police Commissioner were forever memorialized, with the renaming of a portion of 108th Street as “Jack Maple Place.”
It's been over a decade since Maple's death from cancer, but Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who worked tirelessly alongside Maple for a number of years, credited him with saving New York City from the grips of crime.
“Those of you who don't know Jack and only hear stories really cannot understand the fun we had with him, but also how much we learned from him,” Bratton said. “I'm so pleased that the City Council and the community has deemed it fitting to erect this sign.”
Bratton shared a story about Maple and himself walking through Times Square, a cleaned-up, safer Times Square that had been changed by Maple's CompStat initiative.
“We walked through a city that had been transformed,” Bratton said. “It was transformed because of men and women like Jack Maple. In some respects Jack gave his life for the city because he spent his life focused on saving it. We should all remember that he accomplished that. He saved New York City.”
CompStat became Maple's legacy. It was developed when he was still a traffic cop as a simple initiative: putting pins in a map to identify problems areas. It eventually grew to become a system implemented in departments across the nation in cities like Washington, Los Angeles and Austin.
“To Jack, every one of those dots on a crime map was a life,” Bratton said. “A life that could have been saved. A life that could have been spared from a rape or from a robbery.”
In New York City, some credit CompStat as having a huge impact on a precipitous drop in crime in the 1990s. A New York Times report in 2012 reported that between 1990 and 2011, homicides in New York City dropped by 80 percent.
In 1994 during Bratton's first stint as commissioner, CompStat became a major policing tactic for the department. Statistics were kept on the computer to identify problem areas.
In the early days of the program, Bratton recalled Maple putting up a map of a housing development where there was a high volume of crime. He then put up another map, which showed the complaints from residents about drugs in the neighborhood, many of which came from that same development.
He then put up a map showing arrests by the drug unit, but they weren't in the housing complex.
Maple questioned the detective, asking why the arrests were happening away from where the complaints were taking place. The detective told Maple that it was very dangerous over there.
“Can you imagine how dangerous it is for that 65-year-old woman with her arms full of bags shopping to go in and out of that building every day,” Maple fumed at the detective, Bratton recalled. “And you a New York City cop, with your gun and your badge, you're afraid to go there, too?”
“That was the essence of Jack Maple,” Bratton said. “We had to be where the crime was. We had to be where the criminals where, because that's what we as cops do.”
Maple was also memorialized as a family man by his sister Anna Marie Maple, who recalled her brother visiting their dying mother almost every night at the hospital. She remembered when he was suffering from cancer, wanting the whole family to go to Central Park one afternoon and he, in a wheel chair, being positioned so he could see the happiness on the faces of the children as they enjoyed the park.
Maple's roots are in Richmond Hill, where he grew up. Across the street from the new street sign is his childhood home. It was there he was raised by his father, a postal worker and his mother, who worked as a nurse's assistant.
“What a profound impact this one person, this one kid from Richmond hill had on this community, on this city, on this country,” said Councilman Eric Ulrich. “Other people have something to offer, too. Hopefully his life, his legacy, which we honor today will inspire others to do just that.”