New York Shitty Day Starter: Live From The Joint 90th/94th Precinct Public Safety Meeting

The turnout at last night’s gathering was rather lackluster. I suspect this was largely due to the rather short notice for said convocation and of course the fact it is seriously, painfully cold. However, what I did find interesting is who did show up. A number of reporters, most of the 94th Precinct Community Council and a substantial number of Community Board 1 members including— but not limited to— Chairman Chris Olechowski, General Manager Gerald “Gerry” Esposito, Lisa Bamonte, Phil Caponegro, Tom Burrows and of course Trish (as seen above and who had a lot to say) saw fit to brave the elements and learn what the respective heads of the precincts under the jurisdiction had to say. I for one found this very encouraging. Without further ado here is my footage along with a general outline.

Part I: Introductions are made and the Question & Answer Session begins

  • The Q & A session kicks off with an inquiry about the sexual assaults on Withers Street and Maspeth (at Kingsland) Avenue.
  • The Maspeth Avenue assault is described at length (very simply put, a woman exiting the L train was separated from her compatriots, got lost and was forced to perform oral sex on her assailant) and has been determined to be an “isolated incident”.
  • The incident on Withers Street was purportedly an attempted mugging.
  • Concerns/complaints are raised about the homeless shelter which is located on the premises of the former Greenpoint Hospital.


Part II: “Trish”, a member of Community Board 1 and East Williamsburg Greenpoint resident, speaks

  • She counters that the “mugging” on Withers Street was also a sexual assault and backs up her assertion with accounts from her neighbors— including the good Samaritan who intervened on the victim’s behalf.


Part III: A question is raised about current crime trends, among other things

  • The head of the 90th Precinct, Commanding Officer Kemper, speaks first. He notes that property crimes are the biggest issue. especially those involving electronics. E.g.; cell phones, i-Pads, etc.
  • C.O. Kemper makes mention of Operation ID. For those of you who are not familiar with this service (which is offered at every precinct) you can get the low-down by clicking here.
  • He also makes mention of the shooting which came to pass New Year’s Day on Manhattan Avenue.
  • When questioned about outreach by an attendee he notes that the 90th Precinct has Community Council meetings the second Wednesday of every month.
  • C.O. Kemper reiterates that he wants to hear from the public— especially anyone who might have information about the perpetrator responsible for the sexual assault on Maspeth Avenue.


Part IV: D.I. Hurson of the 94th Precinct speaks

  • D.I. Hurson gives a general rundown of the stats he gave at the last 94th Precinct Community Council Meeting.
  • He notes that in 2011 three rapes came to pass in his precinct. In all three of these cases the victim knew her assailant. Hence, the sexual assault on Maspeth Avenue was different.
  • D.I. Hurson assures residents who live on the border of his and C.O. Kemper’s precincts (94th and 90th respectively) that they are in constant communication with each other. He cites a recent shooting at the Cooper Park Houses (apparently misconstrued as a shooting at Cooper Park proper) as an example.


Part V: D.I. Hurson, continued

  • Guido, the equally comparable half to Trish, speaks. He makes the case for a more visible police presence. He also notes that the person who identified the Withers Street assailant was afraid to testify and that in his (this being Guido’s) time “We would have taken care of it ourselves”. Guido also defines what constitutes Greenpoint. READ: it ain’t 11222. I like Guido.
  • Guido adds that more lighting along Maspeth Avenue is needed.
  • An attendee asks what, if anything, is being done about policing areas which are saturated with bars (Bedford Avenue, Grand Street and Graham Avenue, for example).
  • C.O. Kemper of the 90th Precinct steps up to the plate. He makes mention of monthly meetings with nightclub/bar owners.
  • An attendee asks a number of very compelling questions. Firstly, she asks if CPR training is still in effect. Secondly, she asks about the staffing level at the 94th Precinct. Lastly she notes with the increase in population in the 94th Precinct there should be a commensurate increase in police staffing.
  • D.I. Hurson notes that the 94th Precinct is currently down staff-wise. However, it is due to get more new recruits.
  • Same-said citizen notes that a number of new residents in north Brooklyn are not from New York City and as such are not acclimatized to the risks posed in such a city (READ: “street smarts”)— and that this may be a source of crime.
  • Interesting fact: apparently 911 calls have some part in officer allocations to precincts in New York City.
  • Questions of surveillance are raised by an attendee. D.I. Hurson notes this has been implemented at the Cooper Park Houses but not the precinct in general. He adds the Cooper House surveillance cameras were largely responsible for apprehending two shooting suspects.


Part VI: Discussion about surveillance cameras continues

  • The aforementioned citizen notes the intersection of Maspeth Avenue and Kingsland Avenue, where the sexual assault came to pass, was also the location of a homicide in 2004. He also notes that the terminus of Kingland Avenue at Maspeth Avenue has a community garden and the Greenpoint Hospital, e.g.; there are very few eyes on the street. He requests a camera be placed there.
  • Another resident reiterates that the area around Maspeth Avenue and Kingsland Avenue is rife with criminal activity, especially drug dealing.
  • The question of Safe Havens is raised (which was apparently put in place as a result of a spike in crimes in Williamsburg ten years ago).
  • D.I. Hurson says this is not something he would oppose.
  • A member of the 94th Precinct Community Council speaks about the proposed homeless assessment center at 400 McGuinness Boulevard. Namely, that work is being conducted there.
  • Rami Metal, Community Liaison for City Councilman Steve Levin, confirms that there is work underway, that the city has green-lighted this facility and a community-based  law suit to fight it is in the works.
  • D.I. Hurson states that he has met the person who is developing the homeless shelter (presumably Muzzy Rosenblatt of Bowery Residents Committee— Ed. Note.) and that this person has assured him that things will be “just fine” and cited the example of BRC’s shelter on the Bowery as an example. 400 McGuinness, as told to D.I. Hurson, will not be a place to simply house homeless men but to (and I quote) “rehabilitate” them.
  • Lisa Bamonte, member of Community Board 1, also states the case for an increased police presence (READ: beat officers).
  • D.I. Hurson notes that overall staffing for police departments is down. Approximately 41,000 in 2001 versus approximately 35,000 currently. He adds that he mostly puts “beat” officers on Manhattan and Bedford Avenue.
  • Ms. Bamonte suggests some be assigned to Graham Avenue— particularly the Graham Avenue stop of the L train.


Part VII: Lincoln Restler Speaks

  • The most notable point Mr, Restler makes is about RightRides. A totally free service which is available to women and the LGBTQ community to ensure they get home safely. NOTE: RightRides, for lack of any volunteers, did not have this available New Year’s Eve/Day in north Brooklyn.


Part VIII: Wrapping it up

  • Trish asks about the guns for cash program. She is assured by both the heads of the 94th and 90th Precinct that any and all tips/information about illegal handguns are welcome. You can view English and Spanish fliers which C.O. Kemper mentions by clicking here and here.
  • Lisa Bamonte inquires as to how parks can be policed of sex offenders/seedy characters.
  • It is noted by a member of the 94th that all parks have signs posted that all adults must be accompanied by children and, upon Ms. Bamonte asking about enforcement of these rules is assured summonses are issued by the Parks Enforcement Police (PEP) for just this. NOTE: unless I am wrong, there is one PEP officer assigned to the entirety of Community Board 1.

After the meeting I informed Ms. Bamonte that I, a child-free woman, was once asked by a concerned mother if I had children while patronizing a playground. I told this person I didn’t and after looking me up and down she determined I was “probably okay”.

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