NYPD rank and file officers and civilian employees gave outgoing commissioner Ray Kelly two standing ovations Monday as he presided for the final time over a promotion ceremony.
"I am incredibly blessed to have served as New York City police commissioner and to have taken part in the historic achievements you had made possible over the past 12 years," Kelly told the assembled throng of officers, department brass and their families.
"Thanks to you, thanks to our federal partners, New York has remained safe from another terrorist attack despite 16 plots against the city. Meanwhile, crime is down over 30 percent from where it was in 2001," Kelly continued.
He pointed out that the effect of crime reduction has been particularly noted in the falling murder rate, which in 2013 will hit the lowest level since the 1950s, with some 9,000 fewer murders during the Bloomberg administration than in the previous 12 years.
Among those promoted Monday was Robert E. Dewhurst, 47, the cold-case detective who played a major role in solving the Baby Hope case in October. Dewhurst was promoted to second grade detective. He identified the child, now known as Angelica Castillo, after interviewing her mother, and later arrested the relative accused of killing the 4-year-old girl in 1991.
"It is not just me, there are detectives all across the city who worked hard and connected with their victims and their victims' family," Dewhurst told reporters later.
Also among the 64 officers promoted to detective was Joseph M. Petrosino, 28, of Great Neck, the great-great-nephew of fabled NYPD Det. Joseph Petrosino, who was killed in Sicily in March 1909 while on special assignment probing the Mafia. Petrosino had risen to fame as commander of the "Italian squad" and broke up an extortion plot against opera singer Enrico Caruso.
The newly minted detective Petrosino couldn't be reached for comment Monday. But his father, Joseph, who had served as an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn until his retirement two years ago, praised his son.
"I am just proud of him. He is going to carry on the family tradition," he said.