He’s been the top cop in the 84th precinct for about a month now, but citizens of Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO, Vinegar Hill and Boerum Hill had the chance to welcome Captain Sergio Centa to the area during his first precinct community council meeting on Tuesday.
“I look forward to working in the 84,” Centa told the locals at the meeting. “It’s a great command that has a little bit of everything. I’m excited to be here and I look forward to working not only with the cops but the community going forward.”
Centa is a Bayside, Queens native who went to Francis Lewis High School and majored in communications at the New York Institute of Technology. Prior to joining the police force, he worked at CNN’s New York bureau, where he worked on the technical end of production.
Centa is a 15-year veteran of the NYPD. He joined the force in 1999 and started out at the 1st Precinct in Manhattan. After six years there, he was promoted to sergeant and relocated to the 69th Precinct in Canarsie. Three years later, he became the lieutenant at Transit District 30 in Downtown Brooklyn. In 2011, he became captain and worked at the 84th Precinct for six months before he became the executive officer at the 79th Precinct in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
“We’re proud to have Captain Centa back at the 84th Precinct,” said the precinct’s Community Council President Leslie Lewis. “He has a ton of experience and we’re happy that he already is very familiar with the area.”
Centa acknowledged his predecessor, Captain Maximo Tolentino, who left to serve as the captain of the 73rd Precinct, and said that he left the 84 in great shape. He did acknowledge, though, that crime is up slightly — three percent— over the course of the year compared to last year.
The biggest problem driving crime in the 84 has been grand theft auto, which is up 15 thefts of vehicles – which includes cars, motorcycles and scooters — compared to a year ago. Scooters in particular have been a target, and DUMBO has been the biggest problem area during the month of July.
Centa also mentioned that he would like to see the precinct do a better job when it comes to grand larceny, which is actually down three percent compared to last year, but still remains one of the biggest problems in the area.
“The amount of people that come here – people shopping, moving here in the new apartment buildings and the people coming from outside of the neighborhood to use Brooklyn Bridge Park – you would expect those numbers to be higher, but they’re not.
“That doesn’t mean we’re going to sit back and congratulate ourselves; we’re not. We’re always looking to improve and look[ing] for ways to combat that crime.”
Centa noted a pattern that’s been occurring in Brooklyn Bridge Park: People going to use the basketball courts and soccer fields are bringing bags with them that are being stolen while they are playing on the piers.
“Unattended property continues to be a big issue here at the precinct,” Centa said. He urged people to not let valuable belongings out of their sights even for a moment, especially while shopping or out at a restaurant. He also warned that the new iPhone 6s will become big targets.
COPS OF THE MONTH
Officers Thomas Murray and Leonard Clarke were honored by the precinct community council as Cops of the Month. The two partners successfully got a gun off the streets without incident after they noticed a car parked near a hydrant at 3:45 p.m. last month. After the man left his car, the officers questioned him and noticed an illegal and loaded, handgun under the seat and made the arrest.
“This was smart cop work to notice a situation wasn’t right and rather than let a traffic cop deal with it, these officers followed up on it themselves,” Lewis said. “That led to getting a gun off the street with nobody getting hurt. You can’t do better police work than that, and the public owes them a bit of gratitude.”
FOLLOW THE 84 ON TWITTER
The 84th Precinct has a new Twitter account @NYPD84Pct. Centa encouraged everyone to follow the account, as he plans to use it to promote crime safety tips and community events involving the police.