NEW YORK — New York Police Department Officer Christopher DeFlorio works two beats — one in the 32nd Precinct, and the other on a higher plane.
The 18-year police veteran, who’s helped plenty of New Yorkers as a crimebuster, says nothing compares to the satisfaction of his work fighting Satan in the name of God as a religious demonologist.
“I always felt I had a higher calling,” DeFlorio told the Daily News outside the Tribeca firehouse famously featured in the “Ghostbusters” movies. “And to me this is the highest calling you can have.”
DeFlorio said there’s nothing funny or wacky about his work, and he takes great satisfaction in putting the spiritual cuffs on a demonic spirit.
Across the last three years, the 50-year-old officer’s off-duty résumé includes a Connecticut exorcism, the cleansing of a spooky Disney World hotel room, and a ritual to clear a wayward spectral presence from his Harlem stationhouse.
The lapsed Catholic took a significant step on his spiritual journey with wife, Harmony, in 2009. The couple, their marriage on the rocks, started attending church and turned their lives over to Jesus. DeFlorio was soon handing out Bibles in Times Square and helping the needy while on patrol.
Everything changed with a life-altering 2018 missionary trip to Rwanda, where the officer laid eyes on a man who clearly appeared possessed.
“This man was crawling around on the ground,” DeFlorio said. “He was making very, very high-pitched noises I never heard before — and he was eating his arm. That triggered something in me. And it changed the whole way I do ministry.”
DeFlorio began reading up on demonology and the church. He learned that behind all the secondary evil — the man who kills his children, for instance, or the serial rapist — lies a primary evil, the devil himself.
“I started seeing the enemy for who he is,” the officer explained. “There’s actually a personified evil in the devil that is attacking and hurting people.”
His first encounter with evil was the most personal: A spectral figure that terrified his daughter and her friends at a hotel in Disney World. A four-fingered handprint left on a wall and slamming doors added to the horror, he said.
DeFlorio recalled very calmly performing what’s known as a minor exorcism by using holy water to expel the spirit.
“It was baptism by fire,” he said. “It was like God led me down a path to do this.”
Word of DeFlorio’s second job eventually spread through his Harlem precinct, where he gave the boot last winter to a presence on an upper floor. He was summoned after an officer, spending the night after making a late arrest, was scared out of his wits by a paranormal presence.
More recently, he answered a frantic call from a Connecticut woman whose house was haunted with sigils — pictorial signatures attributed to demons from three centuries ago — scrawled on wood beams in the attic.
Even worse, the woman’s 4-year-old granddaughter was growling “like a lion,” a sound heard by DeFlorio when he performed an exorcism there.
“The previous owner, we found, was actually a satanic witch,” he said. “She was doing rituals up there and evoking them. Then she got evicted and we concluded that she bound this demon to the house, that whoever comes there is going to have demonic issues.
“This thing started coming through the little girl. That was chilling.”
DeFlorio, whose supportive wife typically travels with him, has yet to encounter anyone who is possessed — such exorcisms are typically performed by priests. But last month the couple helped a doctor in Maine who was literally getting pushed around in his home by an unexplained spirit, he recalled.
DeFlorio says still hears some snickers from people once they learn of his ghostbusting efforts.
”But when you talk to them one-on-one, a majority of people believe,” he said. “They’ll say, ‘I’m just kidding — I had an experience or I know someone who had an experience.'”
Rocco Parascandola and Larry McShane, New York Daily News