For years we have been asking for our fair share of officers in the 104th Precinct. However historically, our precinct was relatively free of major crime. We were considered a bedroom community with essentially only quality-of-life problems…and very little serious crime. And to a City administration that was seeking a reduction in serious crime, the 104th was not a priority. We were considered a stepping stone for ambitious commanders seeking promotions. Most captains kept their mouths shut and acted like good little soldiers. As a result, our precinct was routinely the first to be raided by police brass seeking to fill special units and supply manpower for special events.
Despite thousands of new hirings since the early 1990’s, the 104th precinct’s staffing levels have remained low compared to surrounding precincts. In fact, in figures just released by Councilman Sheldon Leffler, chairman of the City Council Public Safety Committee, the 104th Precinct lost 10% of its officers since 1997. The most of any Queens precinct.
As a result of this neglect, the104th was dead last in the borough in responding to an emergency crime-in-progress in 1998 and 1999. Last year the average response time soared to 14.9 minutes. This compared to a city average of just over 10 minutes. To make matters worse the 104th Precinct was the only precinct in Queens County (and one of 3 citywide) to experience an increase in crime in 1999. Our once safe neighborhood is turning into a crime haven. And if you are still not convinced just look at the crime stats. Unbelievably the 104th Precinct which covers Ridgewood, Glendale, Middle Village, Maspeth and a small piece of south Elmhurst, ranked 9th in total crime in 1999. Shocking to say the least. But what would you expect when our local precinct has been raped, beaten and stabbed and left for dead by the City of New York.
Harsh words perhaps but let’s look at the record.
Do you think that our community should rank:
• 9th in New York City in overall crime out of 76 Pcts.
• 2nd in auto thefts
• 2nd in burglaries
• and be the only precinct in Queens to experience a rise
Had enough, wait there’s still more. Besides being shortchanged on manpower, our precinct routinely lacks the most basic modern equipment. For instance:
• Outdated phone system (that resembles the 1950’s)
(How many of us have called and never received an answer).
• Lack of unmarked vehicles for crime prevention and traffic enforcement
• Only 1 Radar Gun to enforce speeding that has plagued the neighborhood for years, costing dozens of lives.
• Outdated Computer Equipment and Software
• No e-Mail
• Lack of Precinct space and parking.
The list could go on. As taxpayers, this community has paid millions in additional taxes to fund Safe Streets/Safe City, a program introduced 9 years ago under the Dinkins administration to put more cops on the street and modernize police precincts.
Unfortunately the City of New York has reneged on its promise to supply 100 more cops and modern equipment to the 104th Precinct.
We do have some hope. Police Commissioner Howard Safir has resigned from office to take a job in the private sector. He certainly did not listen to the community. Maybe his successor will. If not, then we must take drastic measures to deal with a drastic situation. Civil disobedience is in order if all else fails. Up until this point, all else has failed… and miserably.