NYPD homicide detective Mark Brooks retires after 37 years

An NYPD homicide detective who worked more than 400 murder cases in a Brooklyn precinct dubbed the “Killing Ground” will retire on Friday after 37 years.

Mark Brooks, 60, is stepping down from the 75th Precinct, which includes the East New York neighborhood, where he’s spent his entire policing career.

There have been more than 1,500 murders in the area since Brooks walked through the doors of the Sutter Ave stationhouse for the first time back in 1984 – and he’s worked on over 400 of them personally.

If given the name of a homicide victim in East New York within the last three decades, Brooks can recall exactly where it happened.

The 75th is notorious for being among the most violent precincts in the city – with The Post calling it New York’s “Killing Ground” in 1993 when a murder was taking place every 63 hours.

Among the noteworthy cases Brooks worked was the 2006 slaying of honors grad student Imette St. Guillen, who was raped and murdered after celebrating her 25th birthday in Manhattan.

Her nude, strangled corpse was later found wrapped in a blanket and dumped in the weeds near the Belt Parkway in East New York.

“[The] Immette case was really interesting because it was the first time we used DNA to that extent to solve a murder,” Brooks told The Post.

Detective Mark Brooks (far right) walks Brooklyn ripper Daniel St. Hubert.
Paul Martinka

He added that some people initially believed it was a possible dump job of a hooker.

“I knew it wasn’t. Like most victims’ families, hers was lost. It was gratifying to solve that case for them,” he said.

The 2011 fatal shooting of decorated NYPD detective Peter Figoski during a drug den raid was a “personal” case for Brooks.

“I worked with him, and saw his smiling face every night when he came in to work at midnight,” Brooks said. “He had four young girls, and loving parents. We weren’t going to rest until we arrested everyone involved.”

The love-triangle murder of Kevin Foote in 1996 was also a notable case for Brooks after the victim’s wife Vanessa Foote Richardson confessed to watching on as an old boyfriend shot him dead.

“Kevin Foote was killed by his wife and her new husband for insurance money. His father kept calling and we couldn’t tell him we were looking at the wife. He was persistent and kept calling me. I was glad to be able to tell him we made an arrest,” Brooks recalled.

Killing Ground front page.
The 75th Precinct, which includes the East New York neighborhood, was dubbed the “Killing Ground.”

Now, detectives in the 75th have a little more time to work on cases today than they did early in Brooks’ career. There have been 24 homicides this year, while there were 26 in total last year and 10 in 2019.

Back in the early 90s, the precinct often recorded more than 100 homicide cases each year.

Open cases are usually written up on a wall in the squad room and are colored red when they’re solved, Brooks said.

“A red box on a case I worked was always a great accomplishment,” the veteran cop said.

Former chief of detectives, Robert Boyce, — who was Brooks’ sergeant in the 75th in the mid-90s — described him as one of the most “thorough and savviest” detectives.

“I knew if I gave him a case it was going to be solved,” Boyce told The Post. “The people of East New York owe him a debt of gratitude for all his hard work in solving those cases.”  

After a lengthy career solving murders, Brooks now plans to devote more time to his construction business and with his three grandchildren.

“It has gone fast, I can’t believe it when you say 37 years, but it is time to go. I look up and I see I am working with the sons of people I used to work with,” Brooks said.

“I will miss it. I will miss my partners. I will miss helping families who just lost a loved one.”