Residents must join the war on crime, new police commander says

The new boss: The 61st Precinct’s new commanding officer, John Chell, is bringing more than 18 years of crime fighting experience to the job.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

The new sheriff of the 61st Precinct wants to tame the growing lawlessness in Sheepshead Bay — and he wants to deputize neighborhood residents to do it.

Captain John Chell, who replaced Inspector George Mastrokostas as commanding officer of the 61st Precinct earlier this month, says he’s looking for community volunteers to help him reduce the 40-percent rise in crime Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Gravesend, and Homecrest has seen over the past few months — the biggest spike being street robberies.

“This is a strong community and I want to make it stronger by bringing everyone together,” Chell told members of the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association last week. “I know how to fight crime, that’s what I’ve been doing my whole career.”

Chell is no stranger to the 61st Precinct. He spent a brief time patrolling its neighborhoods before becoming commanding officer of Brooklyn South’s Auto Larceny unit.

A career that began in the 67th Precinct in East Flatbush has led to stints at Brooklyn South Narcotics and the 62nd Precinct, where he served as the station house’s executive officer.

“I’m Brooklyn, through and through,” said the Bay Ridge native, who still lives in the neighborhood he was born with his wife, four children, three dogs, a rabbit and his mother-in-law.

His last name is pronounced like the instrument, cello, sans the O, and not like shell, but if you’re talking to him, don’t worry about getting his name wrong.

“I don’t care what you call me,” Chell said. “Lets just get the job done.”

Reach reporter Colin MIxson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.

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