Profile: Captain Keith Walton, 49th Precinct

Bronx Profile: Captain Keith Walton, 49th Precinct/NYPD

Koi Germany Jr., Staff Writer


In the blink of an eye, 7-year-old Tyrone Lowe found himself an orphan. His father killed himself with a gunshot wound to the head late last year, only after taking the life of his then girlfriend and Tyrone’s mother just days earlier. By all accounts, life seemed bleak for the Morris Park native.


Notified of the tragedy, Captain Keith Walton, commanding officer of the 49th Precinct, began working with his fellow officers and domestic violence units across the Bronx in raising funds to assist Tyrone in what was sure to be a difficult road ahead.


Captain Keith Walton, 49th Precinct NYPD and Tyrone Lowe. Credit: NY Daily News

Captain Keith Walton, 49th Precinct NYPD and Tyrone Lowe. Credit: NY Daily News

Fast forward to this August, little Tyrone found himself surrounded by the comforting smiles of Mickey and Minnie Mouse and the officers of the 49th Precinct, who surprised the equally elated child with a trip to Disney World and a $5,000 check for what became the Tyrone Lowe Scholarship Fund.


“Not that I want to pat myself on the back or toot my own horn, but throughout New York City there isn’t a command that reaches out to its community like the 49th precinct,” said Walton, for whom efforts like these are just a part of the job. “I think we set the bar, we set the example.”


Tall and broad-shouldered, the captain’s imposing stature stands at odds with his helpful, giving nature, the result of his own experiences with law enforcement.


“I remember waking up to this ungodly sound from my mother and my aunt screaming in the living room,” Walton recounts from his childhood. There his younger sister lay cold and blue in the face, the victim of sudden infant death syndrome.


Eventually, the authorities were notified and proceeded to calm the grieving family.


“There was this one officer who kept talking to me and reassuring me that everything would be okay,” he said.


Internalizing this experience, Walton went on to pursue a career in law enforcement, aware of the positive impacts the police could have upon a community.


After entering the police academy in 1996, Walton was appointed to the 32nd Precinct in Harlem, rising through the ranks of the New York’s finest. He graduated a year later and stayed in his native Harlem until 2002. Walton then moved on to the 40th Precinct in the South Bronx, becoming a sergeant and made strides in his career until finally alighting at the 49th Precinct as captain in 2015, the first captain of color for the precinct.


All the while, Walton never stopped giving back to the community, organizing job fairs, game nights and even a BMX tournament over his 20-year tenure.


“I dedicated my time to coaching basketball. . .in Harlem every Friday, Saturday and Sunday for 14 years, and in 14 years I think I’ve missed two weekends,” he said.


“Not too many commanding officers in the precincts get out and visit and stop and say hi to people in the community,” mentor and close friend Commissioner Joe Ramos stressed, “But Captain Walton does that.”


For all his compassion however, the captain is firm when necessary, cracking down on index crimes, repeat offenders and those who would threaten the safety of the community he holds dear.

Captain Walton accepting a plague from CM Vanessa L. Gibson, Chairperson, Public Safety Committee, NYCC. Credit: Twitter

Captain Walton accepting a plague from CM Vanessa L. Gibson, Chairperson, Public Safety Committee, NYCC. Credit: Twitter

“I do sit before you and say that I’m very legalistic. I don’t believe that we can arrest and summons our way out of every particular problem, but arrests and summonses are a necessity,” the captain expressed.


In light of recent police-related protests, demonstration and events across the nation, the job has also changed for the captain, requiring he take added safety precautions for both his force and the general public. These include increased patrolling, metal detectors within the precinct and other measures for what he calls the “protest capital of the world”.


Still, Walton makes time to break away from 14-hour workdays to spend time with his two sons, give back to local churches and enjoy his leisure time, however sparse.
“It’s very demanding, but I honestly sit before you and say that at times, it really doesn’t seem like work,” he admitted with a smile of satisfaction.

Koi Germany, Jr. is a Bronx Chronicle staff writer.

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