WHAT IS THE STAFFING ISSUE?
Mayor Bloomberg claims that for budget reasons the number of NYPD officers is down to approximately 35,700, down 5,300 from the high (in 2001) of 41,000.
Although starting salaries for rookies is now up to $35,800 – up $10,000 from $25,100 – our NYPD officers are being openly and blatantly recruited by departments all across the country, further depleting the number of savvy and experienced officers. We can’t blame the officers for moving on. They, like the rest of us have family obligations.
Job # 1 for any city government is safety. If any sacrifice must be made, let other departments make it. Perhaps the use of city cars and drivers could be a place to start saving. Perhaps the Community Assistance Unit (CAU) can be eliminated; its purpose is unknown.
Naturally, the depletion directly affects the precincts. Precinct commanders put on a brave face and assert that the precinct can manage without. Who controls the future of the precinct commanders?
How many additional burglaries, muggings, auto thefts, and break-ins will be acceptable? How many shootings, rapes, and murders will be tolerated so the budget can be balanced?
HAS THERE BEEN ANY NOTICEABLE CRIME INCREASE SO FAR?
Not yet, but just the other day, on the morning of June 5th, a robbery took place at a check cashing store in Maspeth, at 58-02 Borden Avenue. A retired corrections officer was opening the store at 8:30AM and was approached by a man announcing a robbery.
The two struggled, and finally, the retired corrections officer – 60 years old – fired multiple shots at the suspect who fled, bleeding, with a bag containing about $30,000. The fleeing suspect jumped into a red car. Police are also looking for another vehicle, a white Ford Explorer driven by a woman.
Police investigators took a nearby ATM’s video. Police hope the video will assist the search.
Fortunately, the retired corrections officer was not injured.
HAS THE STAFFING SHORTAGE AFFECTED ANY OTHER POLICE ACTIVITY?
On the morning of June 6th, a man was spotted fallen on the sidewalk at 85th Street and 60th Road. Later it was determined that he suffered a seizure. Passers-by recognized him as a stonemason neighbor. Multiple calls to 911 resulted in an almost immediate response from the FDNY. The police replied that they had gone to 85th and 60th LANE (the intersection does not exist). This is an old problem, due to unfamiliarity with the various streets in the entire precinct. New, inexperienced officers will have this problem.
About two years ago, two officers I didn’t recognize, asked me if I had witnessed “the” accident. The officers were in a patrol car at 85th Street and 60th Drive. They indicated that the accident had been reported for that intersection. I hadn’t seen or heard any auto accident, said so, and went on my way. A half block away, I turned back to ask the officers where their report stated the accident occurred. They answered: at 85th Street and 60th Road, one block further north. This is not to humiliate the officers, but to indicate that it is basic for all officers to acquaint themselves with the loony street system we have. Moments can make a critical difference.
ANY ADVICE TO KEEP SAFE?
A neighbor wrote that his car was broken into and the GPS system taken. It was raining. He had evidence in his car that he owned a GPS. (There was a mount glued to the dashboard for it.)
Those factors led to the break-in. The thief smashed a rear passenger window, opened the console and stole his GPS and then ripped the mount off the dashboard.
Cars parked in areas with low traffic are targeted, especially when it is raining because that means fewer people on the street to see what they are doing.
According to the police who arrived, the draw to his car was the GPS mount. It doesn't have to be visible; they know you probably keep it in the car, either in the console or the glove box.
The dilemma is that you need to have a GPS mount if you want to use the system, but you can't let thieves know you have it. A little research came up with something called a “Portable Friction Dashboard Mount”.
So when you exit the vehicle, you can tuck this into the glove box or take it with you. Visibility problem solved! (Unfortunately, this only works if you have a Garmin
GPS system, further research might show whether they make them for other brands).
ANY OTHER ADVICE?
Yes. If you observe a new graffiti vandalism attack, report it through 311.
If you observe a graffiti vandalism attack in progress, report it through 911. A graffiti attack is a felony.
Little known: if you observe graffiti on a bus shelter, report it through 311. There will be a shelter identification plate on the crossbar of the shelter. Usually, the printing is large enough to read without effort. Here in Queens, the shelter ID number will start with the letters: QB. Describe the nature of the graffiti to the 311 operator. The operator may also ask for an address. Difficult as that may be to provide, do your best. Perhaps you can use an address from across the street, or up the block, or the intersection.
I WOULD LIKE TO DO MORE. ANY SUGGESTIONS?
Yes. Attend the COP104 meetings, held on the 3rd Wednesday of each month. The locations for the meetings rotate throughout the Precinct so that all precinct residents have an opportunity at least several times each year to communicate with the Precinct Commander and various officers. All residents are always invited and welcome to attend any and all meetings throughout the year. Look for posters announcing the next meeting and its location. These meetings are useful to learn more about your community, and for you and your neighbors to inform the Deputy Inspector of incidents and problems in your neighborhood.
Are you interested in participating in civilian patrol of the community? Phone GCOP/104COP at 718-497-1500.
HOW CAN I CONTACT DEPUTY INSPECTOR GREEN?
You can e-mail the Deputy Inspector at firstname.lastname@example.org. For USPS Mail, write the Deputy Inspector at: 64-02 Catalpa Ave, Ridgewood, NY 11385-5257.
Do you have questions or comments for Deputy Inspector Green that you want published in the next issue of this column? Just e-mail: POLICEBEAT104@AOL.COM or write this column at:
Police Beat 104
C/O Juniper Park Civic Association
P.O. Box 790275
Middle Village, NY 11379.
We will keep your identity private if you request. If you request, we will forward your question or comment to Deputy Inspector Green and publish his reply in the next issue.