Double Duty: 88th Precinct and 88 Keys

Officer Ka Kit Yip of the 88th Precinct in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, is 5 feet 6 inches tall. On Saturday afternoon, he will face what some would consider an adversary that measures 6 feet 11 inches long.

It is a grand piano, the kind of adversary the 19th century virtuoso Ignace Jan Paderewski once called “my enemy.” And Officer Yip will face it unarmed.

“I don’t carry when I’m on stage,” said Officer Yip, who will play a piano recital at the Brooklyn Music School, on St. Felix Street behind the Brooklyn Academy of Music (and within the precinct’s confines). “It would look very ridiculous. I’m a rightie. My gun would be facing the audience. It’s such a bulky object, right next to my waistline. It would be visible.”

Officer Yip, who is known as Chris and who has been on the force for seven years, said colleagues around the station house have called him “Yip-erace” once or twice as a joke, but he does not do Liberacelike costumes or candelabra. His program will be strictly classical music: solo pieces by Bach, Haydn and Mendelssohn, and the Concerto in F by Gershwin. (His teacher, Valentina Nazarenko, will play a reduction of the orchestral part.)

Half of the proceeds from ticket sales ($15 in advance, $20 at the door) will go to the Chinese-American Planning Council, where Officer Yip worked for several years before joining the Police Department.

Officer Yip, 31, said that when he was in his 20s, he started lessons with an instructor who left the country after only six months. He continued on his own, teaching himself to sight-read, before he discovered the Brooklyn Music School on his rounds.

“I passed by the school often,” he said, “and finally decided that it was time for me to sign up with a teacher and focus on my piano studies.”

Most days, he said, he manages to practice for three hours. And he said his music complements his police work.

“It helps you cool your mind down and figure things out more than any other discipline,” he said. “Let’s say a job call comes over for domestic violence. Usually, some officers might become upset because one party decides to do something very stupid. I can stay calm and tell the person, ‘Stay there,’ and calm them down and talk to them.”

So what kind of background music is playing when he is riding around in his patrol car?

“Unfortunately, I cannot put it on classical music,” he said, explaining that he usually picks “something light” and leaves the volume low. “My partner? A Beethoven symphony will just put them to sleep. It doesn’t matter how big Wagner is.”

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