Nick Balaban, a relatively recent newcomer to our 'hood, attended the 71s Precinct Community Council meeting last night and was kind enough to share his notes. Thanks Nick! Below you'll find his detailed report.
For those of you who don't know, the CC meets every third Thursday at the Middle School 61 on Empire at New York at 7:30. They're a great way to get to know your local law enforcement folk. I've spoken quite a bit with the new commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Jack Lewis, in the past few weeks. In fact, I just got off the phone with him about a recent uptick in drug and gang activity right near my home. He's always responsive, and knows a lot of the hoodlums by name. And let's be clear - it's a tiny number of people relative to the population involved in this stuff, but those few guys are capable of doing massively crazy things. Witness the gang shootout at Bedford/Hawthorne on Wednesday night. It's a small miracle no one was hurt.
Lewis told me of a recent arrest of a really bad dude on Clarkson who was allegedly involved in the Parkside shooting in 2010. I think he was referring to the killing of a young inline skater in front of the Parkside Donut diner. This (alleged) murderer was hanging out for days and selling under the scaffolding in front of 35 Clarkson. That's too close for my comfort, thank you very much!
Without further ado, Nick's notes:
The most popular crime in the neighborhood is Grand Larceny. While violence in relation to theft is way down, the most common form of Grand Larceny nowadays is Identity Theft. Thieves steal ATM cards and iPhones and get information from these things to eventually raid bank and credit card accounts. Besides smartphones, gold chains are stolen frequently. Deputy Inspector Jack Lewis advises us to wear jewelry discretely, and, especially for women and children (who are victimized the most by far), to not display your cell phones, particularly when exiting the subway.
Violence in the neighborhood is down 70%, apparently due to Detective Pelt, who did really great work, but is now retired. There were 5 shooting incidents in our neighborhood (I think he meant just in PLG) this year (so far). Of these 5, there have been arrests for the first three, and the shooters are in jail for a long time. DI Lewis says of the 4th, he "knows who did it," but doesn't have enough evidence yet to make an arrest that would stick. The 5th was a gang shootout two nights ago at the corner of Bedford and Hawthorne. About 12 shots were fired, no one was hurt or found, as the gangs dispersed before the police could get there. Apparently, there is a lot of gang activity in our neighborhood, mostly from Hawthorne to Parkside. These gangs have been around a long time, Cripps and Bloods, but now there are splinters within, and the violence has been a real problem. DI Lewis urged us to help the police be their eyes and ears, as they are seriously understaffed and funded. When I brought up my concern that people were speeding way too fast down Rogers and Nostrand, Lewis didn't really respond, giving the impression that the police's lack of resources force them to do triage, concentrating on street violence, gangs and drug trafficking. He seemed very sensitive to the idea that people might be concerned, calling in a crime as a witness, about their own anonymity and safety, and that he has done and will do everything to retain the anonymity and well-being of anyone willing to help.
DI Lewis stressed that it is important to call in "quality of life" crimes, in order to prevent things from getting worse. That means reporting public marijuana use and suspicious gatherings and/or transactions. Also, there is a $1,000 reward for reporting a gun found. While he is well aware of what is going on at the corner of Fenimore and Nostrand — in fact, he knows "even the brothers and cousins" of all the criminals in the neighborhood — he says it is extremely hard to build cases against these guys, as people are reluctant to testify, and, unless a criminal is on parole, he can't be stopped and frisked based on suspicion alone. (the Q's note: really???!)
Ben Edwards, President of the Lefferts Manor Association, runs a Crime Watch program, and he encouraged any and all of us to get involved. Their website, http://www.plgna.org/post/8038528420, is very helpful and good to check often.
Deputy Inspector Jack Lewis said he would be happy to come to any Block Association meeting, probably with another officer, to field questions and address any concerns. He seems eager to get to know the community and its concerns. Here is his info: cell phone: 347-672-5052 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Other notes from the meeting that may be of interest:
There was a shooting at Union and Troy this past week, at which a man got shot in the toe.
Downstate Hospital is threatening to close due to lack of funds. The closing would put close to 1,000 local jobs in jeopardy. There is a rally to keep the hospital open on Thurs., 6/28, 11:30-1:30 at Downstate Hospital.
The first annual Brownsville Film Festival took place 2 nights ago.
There will be a workshop on Eviction Prevention 7/24 at the Walter Weaver School
6/26 Vote for your Congress Rep!
The NYS Regional Economic Counsel is having an open meeting to decide where $750 million of State funds should be allocated. They will also talk about who received funds in the last round. 6/28 at Medgar Evers, 9 - 11 (a.m., I think)
Last week, on Church Ave. (67th Precinct), a woman was shot and killed. (the Q's note: this is actually causing a great deal of controversy, as the woman was shot by the cops and was unarmed, though allegedly in the middle of running from a stolen vehicle that had been involved in a chase).
A representative of the Lubovicher religious sect, wanted to make the larger community aware of a celebration this Saturday on Kingston Ave. for the Lubovicher Rebbe Schneerson's moving "from one dimension to another" exactly 19 years ago. The Rebbe asked for a moment of silence in all schools. Science shows us there is "someone up there who cares for us very much, though the schools haven't caught up with that yet."
The Q at Parkside
News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.