This column will be a regular feature in the Juniper Berry.We plan for the column to be an opportunity for all of us to stay informed on events in the 104th Precinct. Many Berry readers already attend the regular monthly COP104 Meetings held on the 3rd Wednesday of every month.
We hope this column is a supplement to the COP104 Meetings. All readers should feel free to contribute to this column. Do you have questions for the police? Do you have comments for the police? Are you concerned about incidents in your neighborhood? Do you want to publicly thank the police for helping you? This column also welcomes communications from the police to the community. Should we be aware of con games and scams that are occurring? Do the police want to provide information on safety or events in this precinct?
Even during this severe winter, there were a number of graffiti attacks throughout the community. Readers have seen much of it. There's new graffiti on garage doors, storefronts, walls, mailboxes, light posts, bus shelters ñ all over. Now, spring is coming. And so are the graffiti vandals. When you see new graffiti, report it to 311. If you see vandals putting up graffiti, call 911. Graffiti is a crime.
It is illegal for a youngster to be driving a motorized scooter. Frequently we see a twelve or thirteen year old racing in the street with a four or five year old holding on from behind. Or, we cannot have a civil conversation with a neighbor because of the constant loud droning and whizzing around of these illegal scooters. Do you want this to end? Phone 311. Contact your elected officials asking that these scooters be treated seriously and not just taken from the driver for a short time, but confiscated permanently. Why is the Administration for Child Services not involved? Parents who purchase these scooters and permit their children to ride them demonstrate neglect for their child's safety.
Does your neighbor have frequent noisy parties? Is there continuous loud noise from the tavern or bar near your home? Do you have cars stop near your home while blasting stereo noise? All this noise makes you suffer, but it doesn't make you helpless: Call 311!
Kids have plenty of energy and want to spend it. We often watch a group of teens hanging out, being noisy with lots of horseplay. That's annoying, but OK. Your own experience and judgment will tell you when the group is getting out of hand. Will the kids respond appropriately if you ask them to tone it down? Does the horseplay reach to those who don't want to be involved? Is the horseplay getting violent? Is the noise level excessive? Does the noise include threatening remarks? Do you feel threatened? It just may be time to call 311 or 911. You can make a reasonable judgment.
TRAFFIC, PARKING, AUTO THEFT
Is any neighborhood free of car problems? Is there any school, public or private that has no double-parked cars, no school buses parked with engines running, no trucks backed over sidewalks? You don't need this column to tell you to phone 911 for auto theft. But what about cars blocking driveways, cars double-parked, and trucks up on sidewalks, trucks and buses parked with engines running? Call 311.
WHERE ARE THE POLICE WHEN WE NEED THEM?
Well, where are you when the police need you? The police cannot respond to problems not reported. It's straightforward: You report, police respond; you don't report, police cannot respond. Use 311 or 911 to report incidents.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN – CALL 311? WHAT'S THAT ALL ABOUT?
You should phone 311 for any non-emergency matter. This can include calling 311 to report Sanitation problems, illegal dumping, problems with city-owned trees, complaining to the Mayor, complaining to the Mayor about anything, including his own actions. Naturally, call 911 for emergencies – police, fire or medical. Since this column is about police matters in the 104th precinct, we'll restrict comments about calling 311 to non-emergency police matters. Phone 911 if your neighbor's party noise is breaking your windows. But, since that's rare, most times, just call 311. Call 311 for parking and traffic problems. New graffiti? ñ phone 311. Noisy scooters? – call 311.
Once your 311 call is answered, the operator will identify himself or herself. Write the identification. Ask that it be repeated if need be. Calmly report the problem. Be reasonably brief. Provide the location of the problem. The operator frequently needs the nearest cross streets as well as the address. Describe the people involved as best you can. Answer each question patiently. Please remember that the operator is in some room far from you and cannot quite picture the vicinity or the people involved. You help yourself best when you accurately provide all information. The operator is transcribing your report and its details onto the computer and transmitting it to the precinct responsible for that vicinity. As soon as the report is transmitted, which is usually almost immediately, the operator should give to you an incident report number. You should write this number and keep it. You can use this number to track the response to your report. Your call to 311 is complete when you have the report number.
WHEN DO THE POLICE GET INVOLVED?
Once the report has been transmitted to the precinct, it is transmitted via radio to a patrol car assigned to handle 311 calls. HOW LONG
DO I WAIT FOR A RESPONSE?
Remember, 311 calls are for non-emergency matters. For good reason, emergencies have priority over non-emergencies. There will likely be a delay before your call is handled. This delay is the cause of so much citizen frustration. The frustration is the cause of so much citizen cynicism and refusal to report events to the police. The failure to report is the cause of many of the problems that go unreported and unhandled.
RESIST THE TEMPTATION
Please, you serve no one if you describe what you know is a non-emergency as though it were an emergency. If another true emergency is being handled, there will be a delay anyway, but you may be the cause of harm to someone involved in the next real trouble.
THEN, WHY BOTHER?
There is good reason to report all incidents via the 311 system. All reports to 311 are recorded, classified and examined by police officials at 1 Police Plaza. If you experienced a delay in responding to your report, the officials see this. When the officials see a pattern of delay, they examine the pattern. Perhaps one prime reason for response delays is a shortage of officers assigned to the precinct.
Neither you nor I have the power to assign officers to precincts, or to assign patrols to any particular vicinity, but police officials do have that power. If we let frustration make us refuse to report incidents via 311, the incidents will never be handled. The incidents will never come to the attention of the police officials who have the resources to resolve our problems. If our precinct has a shortage of officers and patrols, and we fail to report incidents via 311, the precinct will continue with the shortage, we will continue to have unreported, unhandled incidents, and this community will eventually become unattractive. Each of us has the power, with a phone call, to exert control over our own and this community's quality of life. Use 311, and deal with the frustration. Patience and persistence will win.
We welcome all communication from the community – residents or police officials. You can email your comments to PoliceBeat104@AOL.COM. You can mail your comments to Police Beat 104, C/O Juniper Park Civic Association, P.O. Box 790275, Middle Village, NY 11379. Feel free to report all graffiti locations, new or old, to this column (after you call 311). We will then involve the Juniper Juniors in graffiti removal projects. But thatís another story for another column. Your feedback will drive this column.