Keith Walton, deputy inspector of the 49th Precinct, had his first hearing on Thursday, December 1 in a case stemming from the alleged sexual abuse of a subordinate.
According to a complaint, on November 6 Walton allegedly grabbed a female officer by the hair, attempted to kiss her, put his hand on her groin area and attempted to put her hand on his genitals over his clothes.
Walton is currently suspended without pay.
He was charged with two counts of sexual abuse, in addition to forcible touching, harassment and official misconduct. One of those counts is a felony charge.
In Walton’s absence, Captain Thomas Alps has stepped in as commanding officer for the precinct.
Alps, a former member of the NYPD Intelligence Division and Counter Terrorism Bureau, recently told the Bronx Times, “My philosophy has long been intelligence-based policing.”
“So in listening to the community and their issues we will be able to not only address the issues they have but utilize their assistance in solving crimes,” he continued.
At the hearing, which took place in the Bronx Hall of Justice, Walton supporters held up signs reading ‘America: Innocent Until Proven Guilty’ and ‘Keith Walton: Trailblazer, Innovator, Innocent.’
Raphael Schweizer, a community advocate who has been very vocal in his support of Walton, said it is important for Walton and others to see the support for the deputy inspector.
“Look it makes a difference in the public eye when the news media covers it and there’s a big group of people supporting Keith Walton,” said Schweizer. “Yes, we have to keep Keith Walton motivated and he has to see that people support him.”
Schweizer believes Walton is innocent and also believes there is an ongoing attempt to sully Walton’s name.
Schweizer specifically pointed to the release of the explicit details surrounding the alleged abuse.
He called the release an attempt at “character assassination.”
Eight people showed up to the hearing in support of Walton.
Schweizer is hoping with more time to prepare for Walton’s trial, which begins on Wednesday, December 14, there will be more people in attendance to support Walton.
Prior to the alleged incident, Walton was praised for his work in the community.
“In my opinion he was the best commanding officer the 49th Precinct has ever had,” said Schweizer. “What he did was unprecedented as far as community outreach.”
Walton was also a topic at the latest 49th Precinct community council meeting.
“We have a little bit of an elephant in the room,” said Joe Thompson, president of the 49th Precinct Community Council, during the meeting. “I can tell you this – deputy inspector Walton did a very good job in our community and we’re very pleased.”
Thompson told those in attendance at the Tuesday, November 29 meeting that the community has no knowledge of current legal proceedings surrounding Walton or Walton’s personal life.
However, he added, “We do know that he had innovative programs here and he did a great job for us.”
Thompson seemed to be uninterested in dwelling on the subject as he asked those in attendance to refrain from speaking about Walton.
He also said the community is moving ahead with the new commanding officer.
“All of us in our community are going forward with [Captain Alps],” said Thompson.
The Bronx Times reached out to the district attorney’s office following the hearing but a spokesperson declined comment.
Additionally, the Bronx Times reached out to Louis La Pietra, Walton’s defense attorney, but he did not respond to a request for comment.