Ninth top cop: Bars know noise must be reasonable


By Albert Amateau

Deputy Inspector Kenneth Lehr, who became commanding officer of the Ninth Precinct on Jan. 4, is a 23-year veteran of the New York Police Department.

He replaced D.I. Dennis DeQuatro, who headed the East Village precinct for four-and-a-half years and now commands the Midtown South Precinct as an inspector.

Lehr noted that the precinct, which stretches from E. Houston St. to E. 14th St. from Broadway to the East River, is a diverse and changing area.

“The great thing about N.Y.P.D. is that basic police work and procedures enable you to work effectively in all kinds of situations,” he told a visitor recently.

Of course nightlife is a major concern in the precinct, and Lehr began meeting bar owners and managers soon after arriving.

“The meetings were all positive,” he said, adding, “They want to be both successful and members of the community. But they know that boundaries have to be set, including making sure that noise remains at a reasonable level.”

Lehr started in the precinct in the dead of winter.

“The real test,” he said, “will come when the weather warms and crowds congregate outdoors.”

The mix of nightlife and dense population means that quality-of-life issues are high priority in the area, Lehr noted.

“I think working with the community is the key to quality of life,” he said.

Before coming to the Ninth Precinct, he was commanding officer of Transit District 33 as a captain and rose to the rank of deputy inspector in that command, which covers a wide swath of Brooklyn North.

“That transit district extends through several precincts, and relations between commands is very important,” Lehr said.

In the Ninth Precinct, Lehr works very closely with P.S.A. District 4 of the Housing Bureau — whose officers cover the New York City Housing Authority developments in the area — and with the transit district.

Lehr began his police career as a graduate of the Police Academy in January 1987. He was a patrolman in the 61st Precinct in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, and served as a sergeant in the 114th Precinct, in Astoria, Queens. As a lieutenant, Lehr worked in the 66th Precinct in Borough Park, Brooklyn.

“I got a real feeling for the ethnic diversity of the city,” he remarked.

Lehr was born and bred in Queens and played baseball and football in Catholic Youth Organization leagues. He remains a big Yankees fan and keeps three baseballs on his desk in the stationhouse on E. Fifth St. — one signed by Mickey Mantle, another by Reggie Jackson and the third by Wade Boggs.

With more than 20 years in the service, Lehr said he intends to spend a good many more with N.Y.P.D.