Former cop runs Flushing security business

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John DiBella had always wanted to be a cop. When he finally got the chance, however, he discovered the job was just not for him.

Fortunately, the career track he chose also involves ensuring the safety of Queens residents and people throughout the five boroughs.

"I guess I always had a knack to protect people," said DiBella, former police officer and president of Protection Systems Inc., which has been providing security for homes and most recently city public schools for 15 years.

In 1985, after moving to Flushing from Astoria, DiBella became a subcontractor for ADT home-security systems.

ADT provides residential intruder and fire alarm systems which are hooked up to computers at a complex in Denver, Colo. If triggered by a break-in or fire, ADT staff in Denver immediately contact emergency personnel in the vicinity of the alarmed site.

At the time, DiBella was a one-man show, operating Protection Systems out of his garage and using the income to supplement his salary as a letter carrier in Jamaica. The fact that he had gone to technical school for electronics and had also worked installing fire alarms helped DiBella succeed in his new business venture.

After a decade of growth, DiBella purchased a storefront and adjacent house at 146-35 Horace Harding Expressway, Protection Systems' current location in Flushing.

The chance to pursue his dreams of being a police officer arrived around the same time in the mid-1990s, when the maximum age for applicants rose from 29 to 34.

He went through the training and was sworn in by Mayor Giuliani at Queens College. After spending 1996 on the beat, however, it became difficult to juggle both his policing and his home security business. He had also discovered that the reality of being a cop was much different than what he had envisioned.

"I had to make a decision what to stay with," DiBella said.

Judging from Protection Systems' success over the past few years, sticking with the business was the right choice for DiBella.

Despite continued reports that crime in the city is at an all-time low, DiBella said his business has increased.

"People are still being burglarized daily," said DiBella, whose company provides free consultation for homeowners.

"It doesn't cost anything," he said. "We'll go to a house, recommend a system as well as other ways to keep burglars out - the best type of locks, reinforcing door jams."

Protection Systems has also been awarded contracts to provide security for the city-owned school chancellor's home in Brooklyn as well as 42 public schools in Queens and dozens of others in the Bronx and Manhattan.

DiBella said the amount of valuable educational technology, combined with fears over school violence and intrusions from outside, have led to the increase in city public school security.

Obviously, DiBella is no longer a one-man show. He now oversees a staff consisting of a sales manager, 10 sales representatives and a total of 17 alarm technicians.

Of the expansion of his business, DiBella said "it's a long time working at it."

To reach Protection Systems, call 1-800-496-4555 or view their web site at Protection Systems.com.

Updated 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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