After more than four and a half years serving as head of the 61st Precinct, Deputy Inspector Georgios Mastrokostas said goodbye to the community at last week’s Community Council meeting, and welcomed the new head of the command, Captain John Chell.
Mastrokostas is joining the NYPD’s Organized Crime Control Bureau, charged with the investigation and prevention of organized crime in New York City. The bureau’s work helped bust the massive 36-person auto insurance fraud ring, mostly based in Southern Brooklyn.
“[I have] a lot of great memories, a lot of great support [from those in the community],” Mastrokostas said. “I’m going to miss everybody here, but what makes things easier moving on is knowing that I’m leaving the place in good hands.”
Mastrokostas introduced Chell – pronounced “shell” – during the meeting, who ran through his bona fides: Brooklyn born-and-raised; 18-and-a-half years of service on the police force; worked his way up from beat cop, to detective, to sergeant and lieutenant; worked on both Brooklyn South narcotics and Brooklyn South auto crime – two problems plaguing the 61st Precinct.
Chell praised his predecessor at the meeting, but didn’t fail to note the recent uptick in crime.
“Even though crime is a little up right now, I think part of it, [Mastrokostas is] a victim of his own success. He’s done a great job, and for that I thank him,” Chell said.
To bring crime down, Chell added that he hopes to maintain strong connections with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, and place pressure on prosecutors to lock up known repeat offenders for lengthier terms.
“If I can get them put in jail for … three days, three months, three years, 30 years. If I can chip away at this and put each one of these people in jail for a long period of time, we will bring it back down to where it should be,” Chell said. “And that’s where my expertise comes in. I’ve been doing this for years. Lock up the right people, at the right time, and the right place, working with the DA’s office and do the best we can to prosecute them.”
Chell is also emphasizing the role the community can play in crime fighting and improving relations with the precinct. He has been personally visiting civic associations, and during his first week held an off-the-record meet-and-greet with local leaders, activists and media. He spent his several first days calling local elected officials and civic heads to let them know of the change in guard.
“You don’t realize how important the community is until you become captain,” Chell said. “During the time I was in the [60th Precinct], I quickly realized that community is a big part of this. We’re all on the same team here. I like to say it’s a third of crime fighting, and it’s probably more, ’cause we’re all in this together.”