Thursday, July 2, 2009

Precinct Readies for Holiday Weekend

Neighborhood Issues Discussed at COP 104

By Conor Greene

Officers from the 104th Precinct will be out in full force over the 4th of July weekend to deal with problems, especially illegal firework shows, local residents were informed during this month’s COP 104 meeting, held last week in Middle Village.

Community Affairs Officer Tommy Bell told the crowd during last Thursday’s Juniper Park Civic Association meeting that a full compliment of officers will be on duty to respond to the numerous calls the precinct receives every holiday weekend. In particular, officers will be on the lookout for illegal firework displays and will have manpower concentrated in known “problem areas” including Juniper Valley Park and Fresh Pond Road.

“It is going to be a really busy day – obviously we get a lot of calls on the Fourth of July,” said Officer Bell. “We know where these [problem] areas are and respond to calls pretty much all night.”

Overall, crime is down about eight percent across the precinct, with a decrease in every category with the exception of a minor increase in burglaries, according to Bell. So far this year, there has been one murder – the unsolved killing of a Ridgewood man – compared with four last year, which were all in connection with the fatal fire on Father’s Day 2008.

Among the rest of the major crimes, there have been 112 robberies this year compared with 127 last year; 55 felony assaults compared with 62, 197 burglaries, up from 195 at the same time last year; 217 grand larcenies compared with 241; and 143 auto thefts compared to 158 last year.

Neighborhood Complaints

During the public portion of the meeting, Maspeth resident Tony Nunziato asked if anything could be done to cut down on motorcycle noise in residential areas. “It’s horrendous. You can’t even hear yourself think,” he said. “They’re being harassed by the noise,” he said of the affected residents.

Officer Bell reported that the precinct has been aggressive lately in terms of confiscating motorcycles when possible. So far, 24 have been seized this year, including four this week. “We have a very active highway unit in the 104,” he said, adding that four-wheelers are also becoming a problem, especially in Middle Village. “They’re not just putting themselves in danger, they’re putting others in danger as well,” said Officer Bell. “We want you out there riding safely and licensed… otherwise we’ll take them.”

Another resident asked if anything can be done about commercial vehicles including limousines and taxis parking on residential streets overnight, taking up three spaces. Unfortunately, Officer Bell explained that while most commercial vehicles can’t be left on residential streets overnight, it is legal for limoand taxi drivers to do so under the current law.

Nunziato blamed this situation on industry lobbyists who have influence over elected officials. “Limos should not be on the street… They make money off of it, so why isn’t it commercial?” he said. “They’re really sidestepping the law, and we have to make our elected officials push [against it] because I see more and more of it in this area.” He reminded residents that a car can be ticketed and towed if it remains in one location for more than seven days.

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