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84th Pct. changing of the guard - New commander stresses community partnership

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The new top cop at the 84th Precinct knows he has big shoes to fill, and he’s asking for your help. “The partnership between the police and the community is a two-way street,” Captain Alan Abel told the 84th Precinct Community Council this week. “I need your assistance and cooperation,” he said. Abel took over the command on Jan. 8, and replaces Deputy Inspector Philip Sferrazza, who now heads the 88th Precinct, which covers Fort Greene and Clinton Hill. Abel said the community can provide invaluable intelligence to the command, alerting cops before a minor problem turns into a disturbing crime pattern. Sferrazza was stationed at the 84th Precinct for eight and a half years—about half his career on the police force. “It’s been a great run,” Sferrazza said, crediting a good relationship with Leslie Lewis, the president of the 84th Precinct Community Council. Lewis is known for telephoning the top cop at all hours, detailing any problems in the precinct. “He always had a knack for calling me when I’m eating,” Sferrazza joked. Lewis had only praise to offer Sferrazza. “In all the years I’ve been doing this, there’s never been a commanding officer that strengthened ties between the community and police more than Deputy Inspector Sferrazza,” Lewis said. Of Abel, Sferrazza said he “couldn’t ask for a better guy to follow me.” Abel, who previously worked in the 84th Precinct, said he hopes to build upon the community relationships that Sferrazza helped foster. He noted the overall drop in crime in the precinct last year, and vowed to continue that trend. Last year, the 84th Precinct saw a 3.5 percent decrease in crime. Statistics show a 33 percent decrease in car thefts, 40 percent drop in rape reports, and a 12 percent decline in robberies. But there were two homicides in the precinct this year, compared to zero in 2005. The number of felony assaults increased by nearly four percent, statistics show. Grand larcenies, or non-violent thefts of $1,000 or more, which includes identity theft, increased by just over three percent. For 2007, police statistics show a 24 percent decline in overall crime through Jan. 14. Abel said he quickly got initiated to life as the precinct’s top boss. At 9:05 a.m. last Monday morning—his first five minutes on the job—his first phone call came from Lewis.

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