Definitive Proof of the NYPD Neglect of the 104th Precinct

When NYPD announced the rookie allocation for each precinct in January, elected officials and civic leaders, living within the boundaries of the 104th Precinct, were once again left scratching their collective heads. Can it be that the already woefully undermanned precinct was once again ignored by NYPD brass? This time only 9 rookie officers were assigned to the precinct. This, out of 176 officers that were allocated to Patrol Borough Queens North which is made up of 8 precincts, in addition to the 104th. They include the 108th, the 109th, 110th, 111th, 112th, 114th, and the 115th. The entire borough was also shortchanged, receiving only 176 officers out of 2,200 graduating rookies.

This time however, thanks to the work of the Juniper Park Civic Association, a startling but predictable statistic was uncovered… Backlog.

When calls for help come into 911, dispatchers notify precinct patrol units. If there are not enough units to answer those calls for help, which is the case more often than not in the 104th, the precinct may eventually be placed backlog status. The official NYPD definition of Backlog is holding 5 jobs with no units available or holding any job for 30 minutes with no units available.

Every time a precinct enters into backlog status a report must be filed explaining why the precinct could not answer calls in a timely fashion.

Most Queens precincts have experienced a rise in the number of incidents where there are no police units to respond to calls for assistance. But none have experienced the increase of the 104th Precinct. In 2001 the precinct was short units to respond to calls 70 times. In 2002, however, the 104th precinct went into backlog status a record 247 times, the highest in the borough. Those numbers however only tell part of the story. Almost routinely 104th precinct patrols avoid backlog status by handling 2-3 jobs at once. Once a job is assigned it does not count toward backlog even though there is still the same delay in getting to the job.

At least three civic groups have been monitoring activity on the police scanner for quite some time. The Juniper Park Civic Association, COMET and the Glendale Property Owners have seen an alarming increase in the inability of the precinct to handle the amount of jobs it receives.

The 104th Precinct more than tripled last year's backlog numbers yet there has been no plan or action from the NYPD to address the problem.

The 104th Precinct currently has 137 officers available for duty. A number which many civic leaders say is the lowest number in decades and, with transfers and retirements, manpower continues to drop in the precinct.

To make matters worse, despite fewer cops, the 104th Precinct is a much busier precinct than in previous years. In 2002 the precinct responded to over 70,000 calls or “radio runs.” Compare that to 58,357 in 2001.

It is safe to say that residents living within the 104th precinct area are being shortchanged when it comes to vital police services. For example, if you live in Rego Park or Forest Hills you are served by the 112th precinct. That precinct went into backlog status only 34 times in 2002 while the 104th had 247 incidents. This gross inequity has been totally ignored by NYPD brass.

But the imbalance between he 112th precinct and the 104th extends well beyond backlog. The 112th has the best emergency response time in the borough with a Critical Response (life threatening emergencies) time of 4.1 minutes and Crime-in-Progress response time of 6.0 minutes. On the other hand the 104th Precinct is the slowest responding precinct in the borough with a 5.1 Critical Response and a 8.2 Crime-in-Progress response.

At a recent meeting, I asked Assistant Chief James Tuller (Commander of Patrol Borough Queens North) why backlog, which seems to be the best indicator of manpower needs, was being ignored by the NYPD. According to Chief Tuller–in addition to backlog–Critical Response time and Crimes-in-Progress response time is also considered.

If this was the case then the 104th Precinct should have received the lion's share of new officers since the precinct is last in the borough in all of these categories! If the 104th meets the criteria for more officers then why it is being ignored?

The 104th precinct, which serves an area three times the size of the 112th, received 9 officers while the 112th received 8 officers. Is anyone paying attention to stats?

The Juniper Park Civic Association is calling Commissioner Raymond Kelly to allocate at least 50 more officers to the 104th precinct in order to bring the backlog problem under control. So far we have not gotten an adequate response from the NYPD or the Office of the Commissioner.

If the NYPD does not correct this dangerous inequity then we may be forced to petition the courts to step in and force their hand. We have already gone to the Mayor's office. They are looking into it. This problem is not new. The 104th Precinct has been one of the slowest responding precincts in the City of New York for well over a decade.

The lack of adequate service threatens us all. Residents of the 104th Precinct are sick and tired of being under served. This time we will not go away nor can the NYPD brass spin the numbers in their favor to justify the continued neglect of the 104th Pct.