Guess which precinct averaged the slowest response to a crime in progress (CIP) last year in Queens County? Answer: Easy… our very own 104th Precinct. In 1998 the 104th averaged 11.4 minutes compared to the City average of 10.2. And behind the borough average of 10.2. The figures, released by the New York City Council, are for all combined tours.

“I think this demonstrates what we have been saying all along. We are woefully under served in this community… and we deserve better,” said Juniper Civic President, Bob Holden. For several years he and Juniper Park Civic Association have been particularly outspoken on this issue.

Informed of the numbers, Councilman Tom Ognibene released this statement… “Last year's response time numbers were not unexpected. I have personally met with the highest representatives in the police department concerning this issue. I have made recommendations for redesigning the precinct boundaries and have advocated the development of a police substation. Unfortunately my recommendations have been ignored. The latest stats prove that changes must be made to protect the safety and welfare of the residents of the 104th Precinct.”

Captain Joseph Byrne, Commander of the 104th Precinct, as well as other commanders before him believe substations drain already limited police manpower.

Holden said that the bottom line is that we need more officers to solve the decade long response time problem-“…with only 162 officers in the precinct there is no way we can get adequate coverage for such a large area.”

The 104th is the second largest precinct in Queens County (just over 7 square miles). And the topography of the area doesnít help either. With cemeteries, railroads and highways dividing the neighborhoods, emergency vehicles have limited access routes.

The Juniper Park Civic Association believes the 104th Precinct is undermanned by at least 50 officers.

In 1991, during the ìSafe Streets/Safe Cityî legislation, the 104th Precinct was promised 100 more officers together with new equipment including additional motorized patrols and an upgrade in precinct communications. That never materialized even though we were taxed for the extra police. Holden said that the 104th Precinct has an outdated phone system, lack of basic police equipment and terrible facilities for the officers and public.

We must look to the city – the Mayor and the Police Commissioner-for help on this, said Gary Giordano, District Manager of Community Board 5.