My friend Jack McManus died today, RIOC announced, on April 14th, 2020. After a good fight, he left this life overnight, they said.
By David Stone
“There’s a new sheriff in town, and his name is McManus…” I wrote in a newspaper article, after our first meeting. It was ironic because, although a cop through and through, Jack McManus had no swagger.
Out of uniform, he could easily be mistaken as a friendly bank manager. Or a teacher, his first profession, one he left because it didn’t pay enough to raise a family.
That was June, 2013. I got the lucky assignment of interviewing RIOC’s interim director of Public Safety.
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Jack McManus brought more than experience to PSD
Jack McManus came here with 27 years service with NYPD under his belt. A major assignment was director of operations in the clean up after 9/11. Cancer related to that exposure killed him but not until he beat it back for two, hard years.
“Asked if his experience might make him over-qualified for a much smaller command on Roosevelt Island,” I reported, “he noted the pleasure he found in returning to a precinct-like community setting, adding ‘I’ll work as hard here as I have anywhere else.’”
That he did. And his pleasure was obvious. He loved this community, and we loved him back.
When not managing PSD, he coached… soccer. A lifelong athlete who ran the New York City Marathon, McManus volunteered to lead Roosevelt Island Youth Program teams after hours.
His passion for winning was vocal but maybe not as loud as his comments about losing. His charges loved him because he was genuine, the real deal, a winner at heart.
There was no fake in Jack McManus.
Jack McManus died today. We mourn but won’t forget…
“I’ll place a lot of emphasis on positive interaction between the community and our department. I will go to any meeting I’m invited to, anybody that would have me. This job can’t be done from behind a desk or in a vacuum.”Jack McManus
Interview June, 2013
After he announced his retirement, last June, the community threw a party for him.
We filled the Manhattan Park Theatre Club to SRO. State Assemblyman José Serrano and City Council Member Ben Kallos came with proclamations.
Loved in every segment of the community, McManus also got a personalized sports quilt from the CBN/RI Senior Center sewing program.
He found a way to touch everyone.
And the rounds of praise and respect served up that night matched the praise and thanks he dished out to colleagues, managers, friends, family and residents, when he got his hands on the podium.
Making a difference on Roosevelt Island
The difference Chief Jack McManus delivered here is best seen in contrast.
When then RIOC president Charlene Indelicato hired him for the interim position, McManus walked into immediate crisis. I sat across from him, the first week. I’d been there before. Pale, rectangular marks covered the walls where his predecessor abruptly removed plaques and mementoes, leaving it more like a storeroom.
But a poisoned relationship between PSD and Roosevelt Islanders lingered.
Protests over police abuse filled Good Shepherd Plaza, and in an article I co-wrote with my editor, we documented that outgoing chief’s accepting gifts for favors.
He came with a plan in mind…
He already knew how to patch things up.
“Any success I had in the precincts was from going outside,” McManus told me that afternoon.
He served as commanding officer in three city precincts before leaving the force in 2006.
“I want to talk to as many people as I can, get my arms around what’s happening a little better.”
His deft style at community policing, honed with NYPD, soon eased bad feelings, replacing them with a respectful community presence.
Three years later, in an interview as she exited her job as RIOC president, Charlene Indelicato spoke about hiring Jack McManus.
“That’s when things started getting better for me,” she said.
Indelicato’s successful term reset RIOC’s relationship with Roosevelt Islanders, and she believes that hiring Jack McManus as PSD chief was the turning point.
On a personal note…
My friend Jack McManus died today, but he stays alive in my heart. He was just one of those guys.
We weren’t best friends by any means. More like passing buddies who got a kick out of each other. In playful banter, it was easy to forget he was the head cop around here.
No swagger. No big me/little you. He never raised those barriers.
Jack gently chided me when he thought my reporting came down too hard on RIOC, and I returned the favor when I thought mistakes were made.
When I caught him on Main Street on weekends, even during his sick leave, I teased him about taking the job too seriously, a dig he absorbed with the usual Irish twinkle in his eye.
He respected the press, even going to the trouble of calling from his car to update me on local stories late at night.
I recall his signal dropping in and out while he drove, briefing me on details of the random shooting in the summer of 2018.
The always late Jack McManus…
The last time I saw Jack McManus was when I took the photo at the top of this page.
Showing up for his own soccer field dedication, he was late as usual. Inside RIOC, he was known for keeping a room waiting at scheduled meetings. At the ceremony, president Rosenthal kidded him about it.
But she should be happy.
With me, not his boss, he repeatedly made appointments to meet for coffee — at his suggestion — only to leave me hanging in front of Nisi, checking my watch as I called his cellphone.
“Jack, I’m here. Where are you?”
He’d apologize profusely.
“I got tied up in a meeting,” he explained.
One for which he was also probably late.
I’m sure I will see you later, Jack.
It won’t be right away, but when I pass that bar, I expect so see you on hand with that mischievous grin that you always have ready.
I’ll appreciate it if you’re not late, this one time.
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