The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

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.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Knucklehead Theory

If your block is a lot like mine, there are roughly 1,000 people who call it home. That's not an exaggeration; it's the truth based on simple math. A lot of the larger apartment buildings around here have 60-80 apartments in them, on average 3 people per. So unless you're a "Manor" block, you've got some serious density. It's amazing we get along as well as we do - really. Every block has a few bad apples though, making it rough on the rest of the bushel.

The Q has a theory he's peddling - he calls it The Knucklehead Theory, and its been born out by 22 years of NYC neighborhood observation. Everywhere in NYC it's a few knuckleheads - drug dealers, gang members, delinquents, sociopaths - that make the block feel unsafe or dangerous. They might not ACTUALLY be dangerous people, but they thrive on making the rest of us feel nervous. It's true, that they might be armed, and occasionally, they really are "bad" people; but for the most part they're harmless if left unprovoked. These men (anyone want to argue that they're men?) eventually wear out their welcome in one way or other, and end up getting kicked out by their mothers or girlfriends, end up in jail, or even dead. A few might even get kicked around enough by life that they end up mending their ways; but if they're past a certain age, change is pretty unlikely.

So we're stuck with them, the knuckleheads. But that doesn't mean we can't keep an eye on them. There's a little gaggle of knuckleheads on my block that I keep my eye on. And yeah, the cops know about them. They deal right in broad daylight, and I should probably be all scared that they're going to read this.

But you know what? If you guys DO read this, do yourselves a favor and take the drug dealing indoors, like the coke dealers in the fancier neighborhoods do (I've heard they'll deliver, and even bring some bagels). The cops have you pegged and it's really not cool to be showing off your felonies in front of a bunch of impressionable young kids. You may not have been given a fair chance, and you might feel you have no choice but to join a gang, but please don't take a chance away from someone else by drawing them into your bullshit.

Oh, and curb your damn dogs. I'm fine with the loud music - it IS NYC after all. Just not after 11, okay?


Rudy on Winthrop said...


babs said...

There's a difference between knuckleheads and actual criminals, and all too often, criminal activity is tolerated in our neighborhood for just the reasons you describe: I know who they are and I've got my eye on them, so we're OK. Unfortunately, you don't have your eye on their enemies, who, especially in the case of drug dealing, are likely to settle any disputes with guns. A little hanging out, some loud music, maybe even a 40 oz in a paper bag, OK, but anything else should be the subject of rapid and repeated calls to the 71st Precinct (or are you in the 70th?). The more the NYPD knows we care about what goes on in our neighborhood, the more they will care. And attendance at the Precinct Community Council meetings (this Thursday at 7:30 PM IS 61 @ Empire and New York) is mandatory (and they're giving out turkeys this Thursday, so if you have neighbors who could use one, either bring them with you or maybe take one home to them).

Clarkson FlatBed said...

True, true Babs. Actual criminal activity deserves a call - every time. We're setting up a meeting for our block association with the NYPD to try to bridge the distrust between cops and neighbors. Not everyone views calling the cops as a good thing.

I would disagree only in as much as the police don't really care about the average street level drug deal. They just don't. They'll say they're concerned, but unless they happen to be right there when it goes down, they know damn well it make no difference to run a few people in. Sorry to be so cynical, but even repeated calls get you only so much.

I think foot patrols are the way to go. Anyone else want to chime in?

Anonymous said...

No problem, man. I didn't realize you felt that way. I'll make sure I implement certain changes that will make your neighborhood experience more to your liking.

babs said...

I totally agree about the difficulty in getting the cops to respond to low-level dealing - they hate the paperwork involved and they know the perps are just going to get right back out (as a veteran of many fruitless hours at the 71st Precinct, I can tell you that to get them to take a police report on anything is like pulling teeth!). But the problem is this low-level stuff leads to more crime, like purse snatching, muggings, burglary to get money to buy the drugs, and also to higher-level stuff like shootings and beatings when things go wrong. So we all have to call every time and stay on their backs - I've been counselled to do this by one of our community affairs officers (the Community Affairs team is really great and really concerned with addressing "quality of life" crimes - they understand the broken window theory). I understand that a cop's job, aside from being dangerous, is also full of really frustrating and seemingly-pointless beauracratic crap, but whose job isn't? It's up to us to stay on top of them.

In terms of foot patrols, a bunch of us met last summer to talk about reviving a COP (Civilian Observation Patrol) in the neighborhood, but I believe civilian foot patrols were not recommended - instead, the 71st precinct I believe has a COP car available, and members were just to take it out in shifts and sit in it at certain locations. I don't think anything ever came of it.

I think everyone's best bet is to get to know your beat cops and express your concerns to them. The best place to do this is at the Community Council meetings - there's one tonight, at the middle school on the corner of Empire Blvd. and New York Ave. They're also giving out Thanksgiving turkeys.

Stormy said...

I live on Winthrop between Bedford & Flatbush. Their is a lot of distrust between the people who live in this precinct and the police. It would benefit the officers to have some respect for the people who work and live here but unfortunately I have seen little effort. It also doesn't help when the "stop & frisk" policy of policing is abused so regularly and without reason.