2007-03-07 / Features

Pizzuti Is New PBQN Commander

BY RICHARD GENTILVISO

Photo DCPI Department Assistant Chief Diana L. Pizzuti is the new borough commander of Patrol Borough Queens North. Photo DCPI Department Assistant Chief Diana L. Pizzuti is the new borough commander of Patrol Borough Queens North. New York Police Department Assistant Chief Diana L. Pizzuti is the new borough commander of Patrol Borough Queens North, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly announced on February 27. Ann Bruno, president of the 114th Precinct Community Council, at the council meeting that same evening, said, "As of Monday, [March 5], she is the new borough commander."

Pizzuti succeeds Assistant Chief James Tuller, who is now borough commander of Manhattan South. Formerly commanding officer of the Police Academy, she was the first woman ever to head the academy when she was promoted to Deputy Chief on June 28, 2002.

"Chief Pizzuti will be a great leader for the administration of police services in Queens North," Kelly said in a February 27 press release.

In more than 25 years with the NYPD, Pizzuti has served as commander of the 17th and Midtown North Precinct in Manhattan and the Corruption Prevention Division of the Internal Affairs Bureau. She also served as executive officer of the 13th Precinct in Manhattan.

The first woman to be promoted Assistant Chief and head of a Borough Command was Gertrude LaForgia in 1995. Women first began working for the NYPD more than a century ago in 1891 when the first police matron was hired to guard arrested women in precincts. In 1918, six women were hired and called "Policewomen", but it was not until 1938 that the first civil service exam for the title "Policewoman" was given. About 5,000 women took the exam, with 300 passing it.

In 1961, after 20 years as a policewoman, Felicia Spritzer took the NYPD's policy of prohibiting women from taking promotional exams to court. After the New York Court of Appeals ruled in her favor on behalf of all policewomen, the NYPD recognized the right of women to take promotional exams in 1964.

In 1973, NYPD responded to federal civil rights legislation by dropping all distinctions between policemen and policewomen by adopting the new title of Police Officer and placing both men and women on patrol.

Spritzer and another fellow policewoman, Gertrude Schimmel, became the first female sergeants and after suing again, the duo became the first female lieutenants in 1967.

Schimmel went on to become the first female police captain in 1971 and the first female deputy inspector in 1972. Schimmel eventually rose to deputy chief in 1978 but it would be 17 years before another Gertrude, LaForgia, got a promotion.

Kelly praised Pizzuti for her accomplishments at the Police Academy. "Chief Pizzuti has presided over the most extensive transformation of the Police Academy's curriculum, its rigorous physical education program and recognition by national accrediting bodies for its overall program and for the acceptance by higher educational institutions of Police Academy courses for college credit," he said.

It was not until 1958 that women and men began to train together at the Police Academy.

Pizzuti is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Chicago and also has a master's degree in education from Seton Hall University in New Jersey.

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