Crime and Safety

New NYPD Housing Chief Describes First Day’s ‘Messy Scene’, Reveals Top Priorities

It was far from a quiet first day on the job for the new head of the NYPD Housing Authority.

Housing superintendent Martina Materasso immediately had to deal with a crisis when she took office last month – a crazed shooter staged a shootout that left two people dead at NYCHA compounds in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

“The action started that night at midnight,” Materasso, 45, recently said of being appointed “acting chief” of the bureau on Dec. 5 when he shot and killed Sundance suspect Oliver, 28, who allegedly started a rampage.

Materasso, who has since been promoted to full authority, spoke to The Post last week as he strolled through NYCHA Smith Houses on the Lower East Side, where a monument stands to 21-year-old Kevon Langston, one of Oliver’s alleged victims.

“Unfortunately, sometimes it feels like a dark cloud is hanging over you when you move,” she said. “Something always happens.”

The former head of the NYPD counterterrorism unit said she plans to clean up the house, making addressing the problems of violence and quality of life in housing estates one of her top priorities.

“I mean, violence is always our main concern, shooting, looting,” she said.

Materasso speaks to residents of Governor Alfred E. Smith's homes in lower Manhattan January 17, 2023.
Materasso speaks to residents of Governor Alfred E. Smith’s homes in lower Manhattan January 17, 2023.
Paul Martinka

“But then again, when you talk to these residents, they don’t want to have to step on someone who uses heroin in their lobbies,” Materasso said. “This is unfair to people who go to work in the morning. It’s not fair to these kids. So our attention should still be there. So we should be able to do both at the same time. And we definitely can do it.”

Materasso recalled starting her first day on the subway — a task all bosses had to complete according to Mayor Eric Adams — but rushed to her cops when reports came in of shooting at the first apartment complex.

“That’s when I got into a really chaotic scene where we were looking for a man who had just killed one person and was also involved in other shooting incidents,” she said.

Oliver, an apparent long-serving gang member, allegedly killed Langston in a development in the shadow of the NYPD headquarters at One Police Plaza.

Sundance Oliver allegedly killed two people and wounded another during shootings in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Sundance Oliver allegedly killed two people and wounded another during shootings in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Paul Martinka

A CitiBike, a water bottle and a black “K” still stand as a makeshift monument to Langston near the building where he was shot dead.

“It was a little chaotic,” said Officer Wilbur Martinez, who works in the 4th Community Service Area of ​​the Housing Bureau.

“Everyone was worried, residents. They knew something was wrong.”

Information was scarce in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, but Martinez, who has been in the position for 10 years, said he and his partner were trying to reassure residents.

After Langston’s murder, Oliver allegedly traveled to Brooklyn and fatally shot 17-year-old Keyira Rattray-Brothers at Kingsborough House in Crown Heights.

One of his bullets also hit a 96-year-old man who was in a motorized wheelchair at a bus stop in Brooklyn. Oliver allegedly shot at the woman, and an accidental bullet hit the man in the ankle.

“While this was going on, we had officers walking over the bridges to make sure we had people on site because we were worried about a car he might be using,” Materasso said of the suspect. “He surrendered, thank God, before anyone else died.”

Oliver turned himself in at the 77th Precinct in Brooklyn, the scene caught on CCTV video. At the arraignment, the prosecutors testified that he allegedly planned to shoot the precinct.

The two murders at a public housing estate were a blow to Materasso, who was once dubbed “Wonder Woman” by fellow officers because her goal is to keep residents safe in their homes.

Materasso said NYCHA residents want police officers to address quality of life issues.
Materasso said NYCHA residents want police officers to address quality of life issues.
Paul Martinka

Since her appointment, Materasso has met with development council presidents to discuss their concerns about security and other issues, she said.

The Bureau dealt with these problems by writing new agendas, the chief explained at a recent press conference.

“They say they want cops there and want us to address quality of life issues,” she said at a press conference at One Police Plaza.

“As a result, our PSAs collectively issued over 5,000 subpoenas and summonses,” she said. “This is 164% more than last year. These complaints include the reckless use of off-road motorcycles and ATVs.”

Summons to swear in may also be written in connection with noise and other quality of life complaints.

Materasso in his new office at NYPD headquarters.
Materasso in his new office at NYPD headquarters.
Paul Martinka

Materasso also boasted that in 2022, Housing Bureau cops single-handedly removed 318 weapons from the streets.

“So the boys and girls are there,” she said. “They’re interesting and in the right places.”

While the number of murders and shootings has declined, some indicative crimes, including robberies, have skyrocketed in housing construction, she admitted to The Post.

“We’re having a surge in the Bronx as well as upstate Manhattan,” she said. “We’re definitely keeping an eye on those two.”

As of Jan. 8, the number of robberies rose 53.3% from 15 at the time in 2022 to 23 in 2023 in the city’s residential sector, according to the NYPD. Offense increased by 10.7% from 56 to 62.

Materasso has 2,200 Housing Bureau officers under his command.
Materasso has 2,200 Housing Bureau officers under his command.
Paul Martinka

The department will shift resources and allocate more overtime if needed to bring those numbers down, she said.

“Whatever we do to stop crime, make sure it’s there,” she said. “At least it will hold back for a while, but we still need to get these bad guys and girls off the street.”

It has 2,200 police officers, a small percentage of the citywide 36,000 police officers.

Another important goal for Materasso is to help win over young people in public housing. She says this goal is achieved through the Cornerstone Programs, which were already in place when she started, and are run by 100 community housing centers.

“We have all these centers that are open until late,” she said. “We want young people not to say, ‘Where else can I go? I have to choose a team or a side. We don’t want them to do this. We want them to have a different path.”

The Materasso office displays dozens of NYPD coins commemorating officers and events.
Materasso’s office has dozens of NYPD coins dedicated to officers and events.
Paul Martinka

Materasso never doubted what she wanted to do when she grew up. She wanted to follow in the footsteps of her father Chief Alfred Materasso.

“My brother teaches at our old high school and all the teachers are like, ‘Wow, she really did it because she kept saying that’s what she wanted to do,'” she said.

“I was always like this: cop, cop, cop,” she recalled. “It has always been a passion for me.”

For his part, her father supported her career, she said.

“He understands how important this work is for the people of the city, because he saw this turn,” she said. “He was there in the 70s, and in the 80s, and in the 90s.”

Materasso was called "amazing woman" at the suggestion of the women in the NYPD due to her promotion.
Other women in the NYPD referred to Materasso as “Wonder Woman” due to her promotion.
Paul Martinka

Materasso’s husband, Peter Fortune, also works. So when she’s out all night on a case, her family steps in, as they did during last month’s shooting rampage.

“I thought, ‘I’m not going home anytime soon,'” she recalled, as she made sure her husband was ready to take care of the 12- and 15-year-old girls.

But she succeeded when they were much younger. On March 1, she will turn 23 years of military service, which flew by “like the blink of an eye,” she said.

Back on the 9th floor of the NYPD headquarters, Materasso’s new office is already adorned with police regalia, including dozens of NYPD coins commemorating officers and events. She also has numerous family and department photographs, as well as famous painted images and a Wonder Woman doll.

According to her, some officers called Materasso Wonder Woman when she served in the 41st district in the Bronx because they were amazed at how much she did.

She once told Tonight Show host Savannah Guthrie that other female cops also called her Wonder Woman because her rise was inspiring.

“They all say, ‘How do you do it?’ Materasso said after she became the city’s first female head of the city’s counterterrorism department in 2000.

“How can you be a wife, mother of two, and hold a senior position in the NYPD?” and I think they see if I can juggle it, any one of them can juggle it.”

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