2009-07-08 / Features

With One Exception, Crime Declines In 108th Precinct


The 108th Police Precinct Community Council's June meeting at Sunnyside Community Services was brief but substantial. Two Cop of the Month awards were conferred; a crime report that indicated a further decline in offenses, with one glaring exception, was presented; those assembled heard a curious story of the appearance and disappearance of an indoor soccer arena, and a whole raft of attractive awards was presented to contributors to last December's holiday party for children. The park on Greenpoint Avenue aroused further complaints about drunkenness and nocturnal noise but was also defended as a resort for the peaceful and law-abiding, too. A reminder about the August 4 Night Out Against Crime concluded the council's business until September.

The Cop of the Month awards were presented to Sergeant Scott McKenna and Patrol Officer Craig Pomroy of the precinct's operational intelligence branch. 108th Precinct Commander Deputy Inspector Thomas Kavanagh said the plaques were presented to the two officers, not for any particular arrest, but for their steady performances from month to month during the year or so that they have had this responsibility. They are responsible for accepting and assessing a great deal of information coming into precinct headquarters and passing parts of it to authorities in places ranging from the precinct itself to the city, the state, other cities and states and the federal government. McKenna was not present at the meeting, and when Pomroy came up to accept his award the photographers on hand were asked not to take his picture; such is the nature of his work that exposure is undesirable, the commander said.

Kavanagh began his crime report with the news that there were no murders in the precinct in the past month, but the rape count had increased from one to two. One of them involved a boyfriend of the 17-yearold victim, while the other was clouded with confusion because of the mental profile of the victim. Robberies declined from 17 to 13, but even the lower count was too high for the commander, who noted that at least several of these robberies occurred in the early morning at bodegas located where it was likely no one would be around, except perhaps persons looking for isolated stores to hold up. He wondered why the owners had their places open at hours full of risk but lacking any apparent advantage.

Felony assaults spiked remarkably, increasing from five to 15, but the commander attributed this mainly to bar fights, which led to 13 arrests. Burglaries were down by nearly a quarter, as were narcotics arrests. The commander found a correlation between the two, saying that burglaries are often committed by low-level criminals who have to feed a drug habit. Precinct police obtained 10 search warrants for narcotics in 2009 and he is of the belief the consequent drug unavailability brought down the burglary rate. Grand larcenies fell to 28 from 33, with credit card numbers still a favorite target. Grand larceny auto was off by only one, going to 13 from 14, but at the halfway point in 2009 the rate of auto theft in the 108th is down by 15 percent.

The question period brought to light the case of an old auto repair building on 58th Street in Woodside that was converted to an indoor soccer field where the owner was charging admission and providing nighttime music and a celebratory atmosphere. The noise from the building led to complaints voiced at last month's meeting. The commander said the building had recently been raided by both the police and officials of the Department of Buildings. In reply, he was informed by someone in the audience that there's a For Rent sign on the place, bringing the story to an end for now. However, a woman from that neighborhood complained that there was another building where loud music was disturbing the peace, so the commander promised to look into it. Using the building in such a manner, he said, could make the owner subject to a heavy fine.

The park and playground on Greenpoint Avenue in the 40s drew a complaint from a man who said that if everyone is supposed to be out of the park by 9 p.m., the police should sweep away the drunks and vagrants who remain after that time. Diane Ballek of the community council said if that were done the police would also have to expel local persons who were up to nothing worse than card playing. Lieutenant Mark Wachter said that the police are "the main enforcers in that park, even though it's Parks Department territory".

For most of the meeting, the table at the front of the room was adorned with colorful items, some framed, handmade by Pat Dorfman of the community council and called the Sugar Plum Rose Awards. They were presented to several recipients in appreciation of their contribution to last December's community council holiday party for children, with an additional award to Kavanagh and the officers of the 108th for, in Dorfman's words, all they do for the community and the council.

The winners of the Sugar Plum Rose Awards are: the Police Officers' Quarterly; Waterfront Crabhouse; White Castle; New York New York Windows, the Dutch Kills Civic Association; and Ruby Ng.

The National Night Out Against Crime takes place on the first Tuesday of August and thus occurs this year on August 4. At the 108th, there will be festivities for young and old at John Andrews Park in Long Island City, behind the precinct headquarters building at 50th Avenue near Vernon Boulevard.

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