From crime-riddled Queens streets to the top echelon of the country’s largest police department, Kaz Daughtry took amNewYork Metro back to where he grew up days after being promoted to Deputy Commissioner of Operations during Black History Month.
As Daughtry looked upon the courtyard of Lefrak City he saw it not as it is but as it was decades ago — a vastly different landscape. According to the newly minted Deputy Commissioner of Operations, his old stomping grounds were rife with gang members and violence. The surroundings themselves bore a reflection of this unkempt, unhealthy lifestyle with needles, caps, and other drug refuge discarded in the dirt and shrubbery.
“I went up to Chief Maddrey — Officer Maddrey at the time — and asked him what these things were. He said: ‘I never went to see you picking those things up again, they are bad for you.’ I had to be 11, 12 years old,” Daughtry told amNewYork Metro.
Daughtry referred to now-Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey, who at the time they first met was assigned to the 110th Precinct, which covers Lefrak City.
This is where Daughtry’s long road to the NYPD began, as a child and being the subject of a tug-of-war between the concerns of his mother and the attempted recruitment of gang members.
Even back then, in the early 1990s, he knew he wanted to be different than the sum of his parts, rather than the cruel and nefarious intentions of those around him — he yearned to take the road less traveled.
“I wanted to have something to do with law enforcement but I didn’t know if it was a police officer, a secret service agent, FBI, but I knew I wanted to do something to help people,” Daughtry recalled. “I knew that was my calling.”
While Daughtry refused to accept gang life offered by the older boys on the block, his future became more apparent after becoming fast friends with Maddrey, who guided him to join the NYPD Explorers program for youths interested in law enforcement careers. However, taking the first steps on what would be his eventual career path would also lead to further scorn from his peers.
“When they saw me in uniform, they called me a narc, and then all of my friends started calling me a narc, and they didn’t want to have anything to do with me. I was a little upset by that but all those guys who called me narc, now they are in jail,” Daughtry said.
How things have changed for Daughtry in his hometown.
Carrying the title of commissioner and walking through the streets he hadn’t walked for over two decades during Black History Month, locals greeted the child of Lefrak City with a warm embrace like they had only seen him days ago.
“Kaz!” One woman yelled, hugging him. “We always knew he would be something special,” another man by the name of Waz said.
But with all this recognition, the question remained for some: What does Deputy Commissioner of Operations do? According to Daughtry, the answer is simple.
“To make sure that cops are responding to their jobs on time, to make sure that New Yorkers are getting the help that they need from us, to making sure cops get details in a timely manner,” Daughtry said.
Daughtry charges that in his new role he wants to ensure both the public’s needs are taken care of when it comes to operational efficiency, as well as the cops themselves when it comes to their schedules and ensuring they are more streamlined and efficient, ultimately making sure they have more time with their families.
“I want officers to come in and work and to be able to do their job in a clean environment. And also to give them the tools that they need,” Daughtry said.
As Daughtry walked through the streets surrounding Lefrak City, by the local pizza parlor and inside halls of the complex itself, he imagined a pre-teen version of himself racing down the corridors and through the courtyards.
“I guess the number one thing I would tell my younger self is to continue to be humble,” Daughtry said.