If you’re one of those people who believe the old adage “You can never go home again,” then you should talk to Deputy Inspector James Rooney.
The new commanding officer of the 62nd Precinct says that his move back to Brooklyn is more like a long awaited reunion than a reassignment.
“It’s like I’m coming home,” Rooney, a borough native and Xaverian High School graduate, explained. “I’m thrilled. Brooklyn is what I know.”
Rooney said that 20 of his 26 years with the NYPD has been in the Borough of Churches. Along the way he walked the beat in the 81st Precinct in Bedford-Stuyvesant, the 66th Precinct in Borough Park, the 61st Precinct in Sheepshead Bay and the 68th Precinct in Bay Ridge. He also did a short stint with the Brooklyn South Gang Unit.
When he was promoted to captain, he was taken away from the borough and sent to oversee operations in two Manhattan transit districts. Before his transfer back to Brooklyn, he was in charge of protecting all the train lines between Penn Station and the Staten Island Ferry.
Rooney takes the reins of the 62nd Precinct following the departure of Inspector John Sprague, who was transferred to the 66th Precinct in Borough Park.
Sprague left the Bath Avenue station house with his officers cheering a 10 percent drop in crime.
“It was a very good year and there was a significant reduction in robberies,” said Rooney, looking over CompStat figures. “[Sprague] and his officers managed to close out several robbery crews early in the year. We’re hoping to build on that success.”
To meet that challenge, Rooney said he and his team are investigating a different approach to reducing crime in the 62nd Precinct even further.
“We’re going to be working a lot more with narcotics,” he said, adding that more and more of the criminals busted in the 62nd Precinct either have drug priors or serious drug addictions. “Without fail, the people we keep arresting have drug problems and are stealing to fuel their habit. If we attack the [drug dealers] they’re acquiring the drugs from, that could go a long way to reducing crime.”