If you're looking for fluff pieces about coffee shops and boutiques, you can scroll right on down past this one...I'd like to write honestly about rising crime, and I'll try not to insult your intelligence or talk around the tough questions.
Felony Assault and Rape are up nearly 10% city-wide. So, that sense of backslide is not your imagination. Closer to home, Felony Assault is up 30% in the 71st Precinct. Felony Assault is up even more in the 67th, at a whopping 45% (the 67th is south of Clarkson, East of Bedford - most folk call it East Flatbush). Interestingly, it's down 7% in the 70th Precinct (Flatbush, south of Clarkson/Parkside and east of Coney Island Avenue - precinct map here. [By the way, these borders are bizarre for those of us living on the edge of dividing lines. A crime committed just down the street from me doesn't show up in my precinct's numbers, and I suppose if I was serious about getting to know law enforcement folks I'd be calling the 70th as well as the 71st. Actually, I just did after I wrote that.]
I didn't go to Councilman Mathieu Eugene's crime forum on Monday (community board meetings instead), nor did I go to Saturday's crime forum hosted by the District Attorney (we were setting up for the block party). I've gotten reports from a few folks, and it looks like *we the people* were treated to more posturing, a few good but familiar ideas, and a lot of random yelps from the peanut gallery. AAMOF, that's always my favorite part, because I love hearing what's really rankling my neighbors. And you get to see people at their finest - shouting, angry, consumed, or maybe just sneakily promoting some personal agenda. It's hard to get that kinda honesty out of people when you're just standing next to them on the subway platform.
But at the risk of stating the obvious: things have taken a dramatic turn for the worse in the violence department. Forget about the murder numbers for a minute. I'm sure I'll hear arguments on this statement, but I think murder stats are way overemphasized - the overall number in any given precinct is too small to be statistically reliable for comparison. Plus, it's the intent or attempt to murder that counts, don't you think? If there's an axe murderer around, I'm interested in how many people he tried to chop into pieces, when and where - not how many he successfully chopped up. "Oh yes, Mr. Axe did a very nice job on that one, I must say."
Kings County Hospital has apparently gotten much better at saving gunshot and stabbing victims over the years, but you don't see that fact show up in the historical stats. Rapes are up too, but again the overall totals are relatively low, and one perp can cause a big uptick. (Don't get me wrong; the increase in rapes is very troubling Citywide. Park Slope is up in arms about it, in fact.) Felony Assaults - including shootings, stabbings, beatings and the like - that's where the gangs, the drugs, the domestic abuse, the number of weapons on the streets - the real gritty is going to show up. In my opinion, of course. (IMO means "in my opinion" and is the preferred shorthand of the kids and Bob Marvin.)
I'm not writing this to scare anyone...but let's not pretend anymore that the decades-long decrease year-over-year is gonna continue forever. Like house prices and stock values, there's a point after which you're living in a bubble. You can't decrease the number of cops and say things like Bloomberg said...that we're smarter now and we'll keep the criminals at bay. Crime is often associated with "opportunity." And fewer cops means better opportunities. Equal opportunity in fact, for all sorts of villains. Even in white collar crime, fewer enforcers means more graft.
I'm also not a fan of looking at the much cited "overall" crime numbers. Some crimes, like burglaries, happen way more frequently than others, but get counted the same in the totals - one for each crime of any sort. So Grand Theft Auto is down...so what? Sorry car owners, but that's not as important to me as shootings and rapes, and should be given different weight.
My solution? I don't know. More money, more cops. Smarter cops - cops that can gain the trust of the community they serve, not just intimidate. More and better community organizing. Show up at the Precinct Community Council meetings. Talk to the kids on your block; get to know them a bit. Aid efforts and orgs that aim give young people better opportunities for after-school and job training. Take one piece of the puzzle and make it your own. Please don't think I'm lecturing...I don't know any better than anyone else, and I fall way short. But we're supposedly living a great experiment here called New York City. Let's not fail it now, at it's moment of need, when money is tight and solutions seems few.
Have you signed up for a committee of your Community Board? PLGNA? Here's the form for CB9 below, and here's the website to find out more about what each committee does. Send Pearl Miles, District Manager, an email if you have questions - firstname.lastname@example.org. She's still got some fight in her, and I really think the CB is an underused resource for the WHOLE neighborhood, while at the same time block associations and PLGNA target smaller subsets.
Or send Martin Ruiz, president of PLGNA (Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association) a note to say hi and tell him about yourself and how you'd like to be involved. Not everyone's a joiner, I know. But if that's your scene, we'd love to see your face and count you among the committed to making Lefferts CrownBush Pigtown a better place to live.
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.