PCT. TRIES TO DO MORE WITH LESS
Battling Bushwick Crime While Providing Sandy Aid
The 83rd Precinct is not only battling burglaries, but also increased strain on manpower due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy, residents learned at the 83rd Precinct Community Council meeting last Tuesday, Nov. 20 at the precinct’s Bushwick stationhouse.
Deputy Inspector Anthony Tasso, the precinct’s commander, noted that the Bushwick area did not get hit as hard as other areas by Hurricane Sandy, but regardless, “it’s really been anything but business as usual here.”
The NYPD has been diverting resources from other areas, including the 83rd Precinct, to travel to hard-hit locations such as Coney Island and Gerritsen Beach in South Brooklyn. Members of the 83rd Precinct— many of whom saw their own homes damaged—have been working 12- hour shifts to compensate.
“Here, you have areas that were hit in many different boroughs, in many different neighborhoods, in many different areas,” he added.
So far this year, crime is up 11 percent in Bushwick, with property crimes such as burglaries and auto thefts continuing to bedevil the command. Tasso urged residents to protect their property from “opportunistic burglaries.”
“You’ve got to lock up your doors and windows,” he warned the crowd, “particularly fire escapes, air conditioners, things like that.”
Auto thefts have also risen slightly, with older models being stolen and sold for scrap metal, often from major thoroughfares in the area.
In addition, “I have a hunch that some were being taken for gas” during the hurricane and the subsequent gas shortage, Tasso said.
While property crime continues to be an issue, Tasso noted that violent crime and gang activity are on the decline, and that the precinct is on track to have “one of the all-time best years as murders and shootings go in Bushwick.”
Advice from officers
P.O. Damarys Franco of the precinct’s Community Affairs Unit and P.O. Christopher Iannotti of the Crime Prevention Unit offered tips to help homeowners protect themselves from would-be thieves.
Franco urged residents who own homes with outdoor porch lights to turn them on.
“That is a very simple deterrent,” she stated.
Iannotti stated that several antitheft programs are available for residents to use, and some of them may result in insurance discounts.
In one program, an officer will visit and survey a home or apartment, offering advice on how to better protect the residence from burglars.
The Combat Auto Theft program allows officers to stop a vehicle during late-night hours.
Iannotti also urged residents to purchase anti-theft devices such as steering wheel locks for their vehicles.
D.A. preaches programs
Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes made a short appearance to discuss two initiatives his office is undertaking to help residents.
According to the District Attorney, many residents who have received C-class summonses never show in court; as a result, warrants may be out for their arrest. The outstanding warrants can cause issues when applying for jobs.
The D.A.’s office started a program two years ago called Project Safe Surrender to help residents wrap up outstanding summonses.
On Dec. 14 and 15, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., a makeshift court will be set up in the community room of Mt. Zion Baptist Church, located at 365 Ralph Ave. in Crown Heights, so residents can have their cases adjudicated.
“This is an opportunity to take a very heavy burden off their shoulders,” Hynes stated.
Hynes also announced that his gun buyback program, which offers a $200 cash card for a gun returned to the precinct, will be returning to the Brownsville Baptist Church, located at 600 Stone Ave., on Dec. 15.
The district attorney noted that while there has been no direct link between the program and the decrease in gun violence, he believed that the program helps get stolen weapons off city streets.
“We’ve taken almost 10,000 guns off the street” since the program began, he noted. “Last year, for the first time since 1963, we had less than 200 murders in this county.”
The precinct’s annual turkey drive was a success, according to Precinct Council President Barbara Smith, as local residents and City Council Member Diana Reyna donated goods to give to local residents. In addition, canned goods were collected at local schools.
Joseph Angel of Jalreigh Corp. also delivered 20 turkeys to the meeting.
Smith noted that many goods were sent down to precincts in south Brooklyn affected by Hurricane Sandy; two TVs, sheets and comforters and six turkey dinners were recently delivered to members of those precincts’ respective community affairs units.
She added that while Bushwick was not structurally affected by the storm, many residents have had their employment affected by the hurricane.
“This has really been a real disaster all over the place,” she stated.
The precinct council will be holding its annual Christmas Fund-Raiser on Friday, Nov. 30 at Latinos Americanos Unidos, at 218 Wyckoff Ave.
The precinct council’s annual toy giveaway will be held at Knickerbocker United Methodist Church, located at 484 Knickerbocker Ave., on Dec. 8.
For more information, contact the 83rd Precinct Community Affairs Unit at 1-718-574-1697.