The new commanding officer of the precinct, who took the command Oct. 9, has come full circle from his baptism at the Gate of Heaven church on 101st Avenue almost 40 years ago.
"It's wonderful," Cea said of his return to his native Ozone Park.
Cea, 39, replaced Deputy Inspector Michael Coan, who became commander of the 70th Precinct in Brooklyn after spending nearly two years in the 102nd.
Cea started in January 1986 as a rookie cop in the 103rd Precinct in Jamaica, never dreaming he would one day have a command of his own.
Over the next 15 years, several promotions would follow, eventually landing him his first command at the 102nd Precinct, which includes the neighborhoods of Richmond Hill, Ozone Park, Woodhaven, and Kew Gardens.
After a few years at the 103rd Precinct, Cea was promoted to sergeant at the 77th Precinct in Brooklyn's Prospect Heights. He also served on the narcotics squad in Brooklyn for several years, before being promoted again to lieutenant in Manhattan's 9th Precinct. The precinct house in the East Village is where the popular television series, "NYPD Blue," shoots its exterior scenes, Cea recalled.
"It's a whole different world down there," he said in an interview Monday.
Before transferring to the command of the 102nd Precinct, he was the executive officer at the 113th Precinct, covering south Jamaica.
Cea said his goal for the next few months would be to focus on auto thefts and burglaries, which have risen despite the precinct's overall decline in crime. Crime is down 9.2 percent for the year in the precinct, off 8.5 percent for the month, and down 14.2 percent for the week ending Oct. 20, Cea said.
He said his detective squad would continue to investigate a number of homicide cases that remained unsolved over the past 14 months, including the shooting death of a 30-year-old man and a 14-year-old boy in a car just south of Forest Park last month.
The first major crime to face Cea, occurring two weeks after he took the post as commander, was the rape of a 12-year-old girl in Richmond Hill. Cea said the incident was one of the things he disliked about his work in the police force.
"It just shakes everybody up," he said, after speaking with the victim's family.
Cea praised his predecessor, Coan, for forging ties with members of the community.
"I just came from a place where you really got to know all of the officers and the community," he said. "It's a challenge. You come and then you leave."
©2000 Community News Group
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