At a time when violent crimes are soaring in New York and in the country in general, a relatively young, Dominican-born New York Police Department (NYPD) lieutenant is making a huge difference in the 46 Precinct Detective Squad in the Bronx.
Rennae Francis, 33 — a proud John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York (CUNY) alumna — told Caribbean Life that the 46 Precinct Detective Squad boasts the highest clearance rate in shootings and homicides in the Bronx.
But, even with their achievements, Lt. Francis, who joined the NYPD as a police cadet in 2007, said the detectives, with whom she works in her squad, are “like no other.”
“They are completely dedicated to solving their cases and leave no stone unturned,” said Francis, who graduated in 2009 from John Jay College with her bachelor’s degree in forensic science and again in 2013 with a master’s degree in criminal justice.
She also currently teaches at John Jay College, in the Law and Police Science Department, as an adjunct professor.
“They are meticulous, and display an extremely high level of professionalism and perseverance,” said Lt. Francis, referring to the detectives with whom she works.
“Supervision also plays a huge role in helping to solve violent cases,” she added. “The sergeants I work with constantly showcase their desire to see the case solved and, as such, are helping to coach the team to get the results we have gotten. It’s a great team effort.”
Francis – who migrated in the summer of 2005 to New York from Dominica, the largest of the English-speaking Windward Islands in the Caribbean — said she was recruited in the NYPD at John Jay College, and was given the opportunity to work and make her own schedule, while pursuing her studies.
“The Cadet Corp program provided me with financial aid to help pay for my semesters along with a large family I was lacking in New York City,” she said.
On completion of the Cadet Corps program, and graduating from John Jay College, Francis said she decided to transition into the police officer rank and enrolled as a police recruit in the Police Academy in July 2010.
“The environment I worked in with the Police Cadet Corps showed me the hard work of police officers in fighting crime and inspired me to do the same,” she said.
Francis said she quickly worked her way up the ranks, becoming a lieutenant in 2018.
“Because I worked as a sergeant in the Detective Bureau, the NYPD took my experience into account and, as such, retained me,” she said. “As a lieutenant, I remained in the Detective Bureau.”
Francis said she was first assigned to Manhattan South Detectives, more specifically the 10th Squad in Chelsea, then to the 9th squad in the Lower East Side.
She said she was transferred to the 46th Squad in the Bronx after two years of running detective squads in Manhattan South.
Lt. Francis said her goal “is and has always been to make a positive impact in the world through the means of policing.
“I have done that (from) day one as a police officer and would like to continue doing that by moving up the ranks, and having a larger influence,” she said. “I’d ultimately like to be a chief within the NYPD.”
When asked how her colleagues view her as a young lieutenant, Francis said: “I have earned their respect, as I’ve put in a number of supervisory years in the Detective Bureau.
“I believe they see me as an asset to the team,” she said. “The team has one goal, which is to fight crime through solving cases.
“As long as we continue to achieve the goal, they’ll continue to respect me,” she added.
Francis said the challenges in being a lieutenant are “wanting to solve every case and understanding, no matter how great you are and how many resources you’re given, some cases won’t be solved.
“Being a lieutenant in the bureau, I’ve noticed, requires a lot more mental strength than physical,” she said. “It’s dealing with mental fatigue, and being able to overcome that and keep going.
“I overcome mental fatigue by relaxing with my friends and remembering how blessed I am to be here,” Lt. Francis added. “God has always and will continue to provide.”
Lt. Francis said her long-term goals would be to pass the captain’s exam and, ultimately, run her own precinct command one day.
“This is the starting point to the road to becoming a chief,” she said. “I also want to start a family very soon and, maybe, continue my studies.”
Francis said her mother’s family is from Vielle Case but lived in Soufriere for most of her pre-teen/adult life in Dominica.
She also said her father’s family is from Vielle Case and, largely, still resides there.
When she migrated to New York, Francis said she started living in the Bronx, then moved to Brooklyn a year and a half later.
She eventually moved to Queens, when she bought her house in 2016.
Francis said she was a full-time student before joining the NYPD. She attended Convent High School in Dominica, majoring in science.
She said she’s “a fierce advocate for justice, a champion for immigrants and women, and believes Black Lives Matter.”
Lt. Francis credits her success to her “island-upbringing” and specifically to her mom, who passed away in 2015.
In her spare time, she said she enjoys traveling the world and has visited over 50 countries.
Lt. Francis thanked God and her friends and family “for helping me get this far.
“Also, (I) would like to thank the members of the NYPD, especially Police Commissioner Shea, Chief Harrison and Inspector King, who believed in me (from) day one, along with other members who are now retired (Chief Didonado, Chief Secreto, Lt. Leggett), and to everyone I have the pleasure of working with,” she said.
“Without the support from the executive staff on this job and my colleagues, I would not be able to work with the greatest detectives in the world,” Lt. Francis said. “And to my home country, Dominica, the land of my birth — the country who made me who I am today — thank you.”