Assistant Chief James Secreto, 53, a 30-year police department veteran, has been promoted to commanding officer of Patrol Borough Queens South. Secreto previously served as the commanding officer of two precincts, in Harlem and East New York and worked as commander of the Queens narcotics unit.
Secreto served as the commanding officer of the NYPD’s School Safety Division for the last three years before being tapped by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to head Queens South. In his new post he will oversee eight precincts in southern Queens.
South Queens’ new top cop is no stranger to the borough, having lived in Queens Village for 24 years and Elmhurst for 5 years.
Secreto succeeded Assistant Chief Thomas Dale, who was promoted to NYPD chief of personnel last week and whom Secreto credits as one of his mentors. The new CO met Dale in 1996 when he was a captain and Dale was the commander of the 83rd Precinct in Bushwick, Brooklyn. “I learned a lot from him,” Secreto said.
The PBQS commander said his goal at his new post is to reduce crime even further — in 2009, Queens South reported a 36.4 percent decline in murders from the previous year and a 15 percent drop in overall crime. “I want to make Queens safer, a place that people want to live. That’s my number one goal — to make the people here safe.”
Asked how he will deal with two of the community’s top quality of life issues — noise and graffiti — Secreto said he would continue aggressively attacking the problems, the way the Police Department has done over the past 15 years. “That is not going change,” he said.
Secreto said Queens South would be active in the mayor’s graffiti program, which works to paint over graffiti where it is found. “We’re just going to be aggressive about it, zero tolerance.”
Regarding noise — south Queens residents’ No. 1 quality of life complaint — he said, “It’s an issue and it’s something that we are going to take seriously and we are going to address.”
Acknowledging that auto thefts have been a problem in Queens for a long time, Secreto said police use of state-of-the-art tools such as license plate readers will help reduce their frequency. Secreto added that although the technology in new cars today makes them more difficult to steal, police will not sit back: “We are going to do our part.”
Citing Operation Impact as an effective program that places police officers where crimes have been occuring, Secreto said it would continue, along with other successful department programs. He noted that he is always open to suggestions from his staff as to what could be done better.