Captain James Fey, the commanding officer of the 106th Precinct, surprised members of Community Board 10 Thursday night when he unexpectedly announced his retirement at the board’s October meeting in South Ozone Park.
Fey, who has only been at the helm of the south Queens precinct since March, will take a job at Columbia University starting Oct. 17. A replacement has not yet been named.
“It’s hard to leave the Police Department in general,” the 27-year veteran of the NYPD said. “”It saddens me a great deal. I was very conflicted.”
Fey thanked the community for the support they have given to himself and his officers.
“I can’t thank this community enough,” he said. “I know I haven’t been here long. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned to love the community. The support you guys give is really phenomenal.”
Fey replaced Deputy Inspector Jeffrey Schiff as commanding officer of the precinct, which covers Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park and Howard Beach in March. Schiff was reassigned to lead the 105th Precinct in Queens Village.
Despite several tragic incidents over the summer, including the murders of Karina Vetrano in Howard Beach and Imam Maulama Akonjee and an associate of his in Ozone Park, the precinct command has seen a tremendous drop in crime during Fey’s six-month tenure. Overall major crime is down more than 12 percent year to date over last year, notably with a double-digit drop in grand larceny autos, which have been an issue in the precinct for years.
Fey noted that the precinct is down 42 robberies this year as compared to last year, which he called “record low numbers.”
“We are way down on stolen vehicles; we are 100 less stolen vehicles on the year,” he said.
The precinct is also down in robberies, which Fey described as a “good indicator on how a community is doing.” The number of robberies is less than in any year dating back to at least 1993.
“I can’t go back far enough to figure out how far down we are, but definitely in the past two decades,” he said. “My records go back to 1993, but I know there were a lot of robberies in the ’80s with the crack epidemic.”