Community leaders cautioned against a rush to judgment concerning allegations about a well-liked police precinct commanding officer.
Deputy Inspector Keith Walton was relieved of his command at the 49th Precinct as of Wednesday, November 16 amid allegations of unwanted advancements on a female subordinate in his office.
He had been precinct’s commanding officer since July 2015.
Walton was criminally charged, according to a complaint report, after being arrested on Friday, November 18.
He is charged with two counts of sexual abuse, as well as forcible touching, harassment and official misconduct. One of the counts is a felony charge.
According to the complaint report, the incident allegedly occurred at about 1:15 p.m. on Sunday, November 6 where Walton is said to have pulled the woman’s hair, attempted to kiss her, put his hand on her crotch over her clothes and attempted to put her hand on his penis over his clothes.
Walton is currently suspended without pay, according to the NYPD.
Captain Thomas Alps, who comes to the 49th Precinct from the 40th Precinct, is the new commanding officer as of Thursday, November 17, according to police.
Community leaders, many of who had only words of praise in terms of Walton’s police work, cautioned against jumping to conclusions about the inspector.
Joe Thompson, 49th Precinct Community Council president, said that during Walton’s time at the precinct he engaged youth, talked frankly with community leaders, and assigned officers to troubled housing developments to reduce shootings.
“He made his meetings, he acted on requests from the community, and from a policing standpoint, there are no complaints from the community,” said Thompson,
Thompson said that Walton made outreach to youth a priority in order to forge bonds between young people and cops.
He refused to make judgments about the alleged incident.
Thompson added that he thought Walton’s removal was a sign of a thorough internal NYPD investigation.
Tony Signorile, Morris Park Community Association president, said that he thought of Walton as a family man who was dedicated to his children and to the community.
“To me, he is not guilty until he is proven guilty,” said Signorile of Walton, adding that he would continue to work with the inspector if he was cleared of the charges.
Kay Cardona, 49th Precinct Community Council secretary, said that Walton helped start a go-fund-me page for a child whose mother was killed by her boyfriend.
She said that the inspector conveyed integrity and seemed to be a good family who was an “upright person.”
She indicated that Walton was professional and showed a high degree of skill in his work.
It is typical in the NYPD for a superior to be removed pending an investigation of this kind, and that usually the person making the complaint is kept in place to avoid the appearance of punishing the victim, sources said.
His removal from the command is no indication of his guilt, but is simply department policy, according to sources.