Capt. Thomas Conforti did not need a guided tour when he took over as commanding officer of the NYPD’s 112th Precinct two weeks ago.
Eight years ago as a lieutenant, he served as special operations commander out of the Austin Street station house.
And the officers he now is in charge of patrol many of the streets he has known all his life.
“I grew up in the 104th, just across Woodhaven Boulevard, which is our boundary line,” he said. “Down here on Austin Street, where the Verizon store is now, was a Record World, back when they made records. And my friends and I would go to the Midway, which was a hopping place, and I’m sure still is.”
The iconic movie theater actually is planning for its 70th anniversary celebration.
Conforti started out his career on a foot patrol in Brooklyn’s Brownsville section.
Prior to coming back to the 112th, Conforti commanded the Citi Field detail. He also has led the Queens Burglary Larceny Apprehension Suppression Team or BLAST; spent three years in the Bronx; and headed the detective squads in the 104th and 109th precincts, among his other assignments.
“The thing about the Citi Field assignment is that you never see any of the game,” he said. “In a post-9/11 world, at a venue with 20,000 to 35,000 people or more, you’re focused on security.”
He already has become visible at a number of community events and seen a lot of old friends in the Forest Hills and Rego Park communities, as well as a lot of new faces. And he said certain things about crime in the 112th are both the same as and different from his tenure as its special operations commander.
“You still have grand larcenies,” he said. “When I was here eight years ago there was a problem with pickpockets along Austin Street, which is a popular shopping area. We did things to address that. Then iPhones came out and people began stealing them. When I was working with anticrime units, you had the same thing around the Queens Center mall, as you can have in large shopping centers. We did things to address it.”
He said grand larceny in automobiles used to have thieves focusing on air bags, and now has shifted to pricey tire rims.
The 112th in recent years has had a string of record lows in several major crime categories, something Conforti said should not intimidate a new commanding officer at any precinct.
“My job now is to come up with creative ways to set that bar even lower,” he said.