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CNN Today

Irish-American Cop Earns Respect of New York's Harlem Community, Peers

Aired April 10, 2000 - 1:32 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Police in America's two largest cities are under fire, as you know, these days from the people they protect and serve.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Controversial shootings in New York, a corruption scandal in L.A. have given those cops an image problem, to say the least. But some police, more than ever, get recognized, enjoy the respect and admiration, even the love, of their communities.

WATERS: And CNN's Frank Buckley has a case in point.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FRANK BUCKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The streets of Harlem, home of the 28th Police Precinct, for the last 27 years the place where Lt. John Patrick Quinn has been on the beat, making arrests, making friends.

LT. JOHN PATRICK QUINN, NEW YORK POLICE: Hey, sir, how're you doing? How are you?

BUCKLEY: He's a 61-year-old Irish-American in a mostly African- American community who made it his life's mission to make it a better place for all.

QUINN: When I look at the location here, it always makes me feel, you know, feel good. I'm not going to be naive and say nothing is not existing, but no way where it was -- the situation that it was.

BUCKLEY: He heads the 28's Special Operations Squad, which targets the kind of daily crime that can impact the quality of life.

CAPT. ROBERT LUCENA, NEW YORK POLICE: He's a boss's boss, he's a man's man, and he's a cop's cop. And, John, thank you very much.

BUCKLEY: A recent ceremony at the precinct illustrating how much of an impact Quinn has had, a bust of Quinn unveiled in a ceremony organized by the Ministers of Harlem, Quinn honored by members of a community sometimes at odds with police, who said his dedication to that community and his respect for the individuals in it was an example for all to follow.

REV. BETTY NEAL, MINISTERS OF HARLEM, USA: If we could have this man train every new cop that comes into the police department, you would have no police brutality.

QUINN: It's been a great adventure, been a great, you know...

NEAL: Now don't you cry now.

BUCKLEY: In 39 years on the force, Quinn never discharged his weapon, a sharp contrast to the image held by some in the Harlem community of police too willing to shoot, an image shaped by four police shootings of unarmed black men in recent months, cases that once again focused scrutiny on the NYPD.

QUINN: I strongly believe that the officers that I know of that there's nobody going out with the idea of, let me hurt somebody. That's the last thing, you know. We're all humans.

BUCKLEY: Among them, one John Patrick Quinn, whom some in Harlem call a saint.

Frank Buckley, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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