Yonkers Rallies To Keep 'Superstar' Police Captain

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Residents have given an outpouring of support to keep Fourth Police Precinct Capt. John Mueller (third from left) at his position. Mueller joined city officials in Trinity Plaza in August for the launch of a neighborhood cleanup program. Photo Credit: Matt Bultman

YONKERS, N.Y. – Some in Yonkers have rallied behind their police captain, giving a show of support that will keep him at his post.

The Yonkers Police Department announced late last week it has re-considered a plan that would have transferred Fourth Police Precinct Capt. John Mueller to another position in the department.

Police brass credited the outpouring of feedback they received from residents and community activists with changing their decision.

“When I heard they were transferring him I was horrified,” said Woodstock Park resident Carol Beledo. “It looks like I was not alone.”

The move to transfer Mueller, captain of the precinct since January 2012, was planned to be part of a larger shuffling of positions within the department, officials said. 

When locals caught wind of the idea, they began flooding City Hall and police headquarters with emails, phone calls and signed petitions.

Mueller has had a significant impact and losing him would be a blow to the neighborhood, community leaders said at the time. 

“We were afraid that if this guy leaves, everything he’s done just falls apart,” said Robert Piwinski, vice president of the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church.

Piwinski said the area around his Trinity Plaza church is a shining example of the work Mueller has done in the Fourth Precinct. Near Ashburton Avenue and Walnut Street, the area known as the Hollow, used to be a haven for drug users, prostitutes and vandals who wreaked havoc on the small square of churches and parks.

After a sit-down between neighborhood leaders and Mueller in May, police began sending in the SWAT team and plain-clothes detectives to clean up the streets, Piwinski said.

“Within four weeks, there was something like 60 arrests in just these few blocks,” he said.

Dozens of residents and business owners have similar stories of the captain listening, and responding, to their concerns.

“As a community we have really developed a relationship with him, whomever crosses his path,” Beledo said. “And he genuinely cares. He cares and follows up.”

Mueller could not immediately be reached for comment, but, on Thursday, Police Commissioner Charles Gardner said the department heard residents’ concerns and scrapped the plan to transfer the captain.

“The department was planning the reassignment of several individuals,” Gardner said in a statement. “As a result of positive feedback from the community regarding the upcoming transfer of Capt. John Mueller of the 4th Precinct, the transfer was re-evaluated and will he will remain in his current assignment. The YPD remains committed to be responsive to the needs of the community.  We value their opinion and will continue to partner with our citizens in our combined efforts to provide quality police services.”   

Residents say they couldn’t be happier.

“Everyone’s good but sometimes you get one guy that’s great,” Piwinski said. “They’ve got a superstar here.”

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What is happening with the rest of the transfers?

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