Changing of the guard at the 66th Precinct

In a ceremonial changing of the guard, Inspector Peter DeBlasio handed over the reins of the 66th Precinct to his successor as he bid farewell to residents of Kensington and Borough Park, thanking them for nearly five years of friendship and camaraderie.

“I’ll miss this place,” DeBlasio said at last week’s farewell appearance at the 66th Precinct Community Council. “I was commanding officer of this precinct for 57 months. I have a nice relationship with the community and the cops in the precinct.”

DeBlasio leaves the 66th Precinct heartened that “crime was down all the time I was there.”

“The community was a big help in our crime reduction,” he said. “But now I’m looking ahead at a new challenge.

That challenge comes by way of Coney Island. Earlier this year, he was assigned to lead the 60th Precinct, a part of the borough he admits he never patrolled during his many years with the NYPD.

His first experience in Coney Island came on New Year’s Day, when he watched the Polar Bear Club take their ceremonial dip into the Atlantic.

“They were coming out shivering,” he said. “I asked them, ‘Was it worth it?’”

“[Coney Island] is different, but it’s good,” he said. “The community is very involved, just like they are here.”

DeBlasio had nothing but glowing remarks about his replacement, Deputy Inspector John Sprague, who comes to the 66th Precinct from the nearby 62nd Precinct in Bensonhurst.

“Sprague is a great crime fighter,” he said. “I know he’s going to do a great job and build another road on the bridge that the community and I had built during my stay here.”

Sprague said that he was excited to get to work.

“I like it here,” he said. “In many ways it reminds me of the 62nd Precinct. The community is very supportive and the partnership between the residents and the police is strong.”

Sprague said that DeBlasio “helped pave the way” for even stronger bonds to be built in the future.

Hitting the ground running, Sprague said that one of his first priorities will be to bring down burglaries in the command, which saw a nearly six percent jump at the end of last year.

He also plans to focus on the upcoming Chinese New Year, he said.

“Crime trends tend to crop up during this time of year because traditionally those who celebrate the holiday give monetary gifts to each other,” he said.

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