2018-12-05 / Front Page

NCOs Give Crime Report At 108th Precinct Community Council Meeting

By Thomas Cogan
The December meeting of the 108th Police Precinct Community Council, at Sunnyside Community Services, was missing Commander Deputy Inspector Ralph Forgione, who’d had a busy day that left him no time for the monthly gathering of police and local residents.  Presiding over it in his place was Executive Officer Captain Roger Sankerdial, who had called in a large number of patrol officers to speak about their activities under the Neighborhood Coordination Officers, which was rolled out in the 108th at an enthusiastic meeting at the beginning of October.

There was a Cop of the Month presentation to two officers who pursued and apprehended a miscreant with the help of a civilian couple.  There was more about drag racing on streets in both Long Island City and Woodside and still more coverage of postal “fishing,” which has become a highly popular crime.  

The Cops of the Month were Patrol Officers Xiomara Ramirez and Kenneth McLoughlin, for handling a mid-October series of early-morning incidents that took more than a week to conclude.  On Monday the 15th, there were reports of a robbery and, earlier, of a man exposing himself before passersby.  Several nights later, on Tuesday, October 23, the two officers went cruising in an unmarked car through the area where the man was reported to be operating. 

A woman on the sidewalk noticed they were police and signaled to them.  She said she and her husband were walking and noticed they were being followed by the man, whose reputation had grown in the neighborhood lately.  Her husband, she said, had just turned on the man, who quickly fled.  The police gave chase, caught up with him and his pursuer and arrested the outnumbered flasher. 

The captain’s crime report was sketchier than the commander’s reports usually are.  He said that there had been 85 index crimes reported for the 28-day period just a year before.  For the most current period 78 were reported, so that indicated a crime situation that at least was not becoming worse.  He also reported the arrest that morning (Tuesday, November 27) of a suspect in a shooting incident several days earlier.  Also, a suspect in the robbery reported in October to Officers Ramirez and McLoughlin had recently been arrested and found to be not a local operator but a man hailing from north of the city.

The first report of the night on drag racing was made by Peter Mauro, who lives on 47th Avenue, which had been picked out as a street course by drivers looking for racing room.  He said that the most recent occasion of racing there was done by drivers mourning the death of two of their friends in a wrong-way collision a week earlier.  (That is not to be confused with another drag racer’s death on Review Avenue, reported at the October meeting.)

Father Henry Torres, known familiarly as Father Henry, a priest at St. Sebastian’s R.C. Church, said there have been a number of racing incidents at night on some poorly-lighted roads in Woodside.  Capt. Sankerdial told him that his forces are making a strong effort to check out such occurrences, having earlier made a surveillance of Review Avenue after last month‘s drag- racing incidents there. 

A Woodside resident spoke of a shooting incident in his neighborhood during the summer and said it was but one of several crimes being committed in Woodside, a place now being referred to as Hoodside, he added.  He deplored the number of homeless persons in the streets, saying their presence was bringing on disruption. 

The first of the Neighborhood Policing officers to speak said he and other neighborhood cooperation officers (NCOs) are making the effort to bring homeless persons away from the streets to shelters, or even helping some to gain residences.  Another officer spoke of trying to engage with those living under highway overpasses.  Assemblyman Brian Barnwell was present and said these officers were acting pro-actively, in contrast to city bureaus that are reactive.

But Officer Kaplan, an NCO from sector D, which includes Big Bush Park, off Queens Boulevard in the 60s, said that such programs should not be sold as permanent solutions.  Engagement is fine and he works at it constantly, he said, but sometimes these homeless people don’t want help.  They have a What’s the problem? attitude and ask only to be left alone. 

Father Henry referred to a woman familiar to Woodsiders, who often lives on the streets and indulges in drugs, despite the fact that her mother is a local resident.  The priest said the woman, known as Melinda, is occasionally persuaded to return to her mother’s place, where she’ll detox and stay clean for awhile.  He said there comes a time, however, when she grows restless and goes back to the streets and the satisfaction she may find there.

But at the end of the meeting, P.O. Diaz said that winter is coming—Thanksgiving provided a preview—and Code Blue will be in effect, that being the order to rescue homeless persons out in the freezing weather and bring them to shelters, whether they want to go or not.

Christian Murray of the Sunnyside Post asked about “fishing,” being willing to go back to the oft-covered topic because he had heard that a great deal of this mode of mail theft  had been going on lately at mailboxes along Skillman Avenue and nearby streets of Woodside and Sunnyside.  P.O. McCaffrey said the police have been able to aim security cameras at several local mailboxes and thus get some video of anglers at work with wire hangers and similar devices, fitted with freshly-chewed gum and other adhesives and cast among schools of envelopes swimming within, containing checks for rent, pension payments and the like.

There is no community council meeting for December.  The chief event is a party for homeless children at Sunnyside Community Services (SCS), 43-31 39th St., on Saturday afternoon, December 15.  For further information, call SCS at 718-784-6173.




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