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.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Report on Last Night's Cops Meeting

Thanks to Angel and Dynishal for a great meeting last night in the lobby of 40 Lincoln Road in the "LEFFERTS" neighborhood. Sgt Falk, who heads the "quality of life" unit, introduced longtime and newly assigned members of the group. These guys (and gal) are responsible for knowing the businesses and buildings in our neighborhood intimately. Much of the discussion centered around efforts at 40 Lincoln to rid the building of nuisances created by residents and non-residents alike, from smoking weed and drinking and carrying-on til all hours in the halls, to (crazy story here) a pervy peeping Tom who used to hang out on the fire-escape and do all manner of unseemly things up there, to domestic violence issues and more. One moment of heated debate came up when the cops were asked to be sure not to  "harass" the tenants, or make needless stops, while doing their in-the-building patrols. The police were visibly upset at this suggestion, trying to describe how it feels on their side when they are called to a building to do nuisance abatement, and then are aggressively confronted or even sued for "doing their job" and trying to assess who are the bad guys. So, basically, we were treated to an impassioned argument by the cops for using stop-and-frisk to do what they're asked to do. Tricky stuff that. I'd prefer not step into the debate, but they did seem to make a good point about how buildings can't really have it both ways. Either you want the cops to harass people and get them out, or you don't, since it's unlikely the folks are committing serious enough offenses to get them locked up for good.

The assumption some had was that the 71st has "tenants lists" for the buildings that have signed up for the F-TAP program (not to be confused with the Park Slope Food Coop's FTOP program) which gives the police the advanced right to enter a building and do "verticals" of the stairways, hallways and elevators. F-TAP does not allow them entry to individual apartments though, of course, meaning that the most they can do is to intimidate criminals and partiers into staying out of sight and off-sight. If you're interested in getting your building into the F-TAP program, you can go here and contact the D.A.'s office.

Here's a brief vid of the scene last night:

So here's the sitch: along with Officers Charlie and Leo (Melee and Ramos) already on the beat in the area, we'll have newly assigned Officers Sky and Rodriguez on morning patrols. Meetings like last night's are awesome, cuz you get to see your neighbors and see what concerns they have and how they express them. The cops too are refreshingly frank and eager to answer questions.

But here's something they keep saying, and I'm starting to believe. They simply don't get that many calls. Even when we claim we do, they say we don't. You can call the precinct directly, or you can call specific people like Sgt. Falk at 718-221-3429 or Sgt. Kelly (mornings) at 646-235 8611. You'll probably have to leave a message, so an emergency or urgent condition should always be a 911. And DON'T think someone else will call! They probably won't, and more calls are better than no calls. Just get used to calling in problems...they promised they don't get mad numbers of calls anyway, and it really is how resources are deployed. So call. Call. Call! And talk to your landlord about better lighting. The cops say it makes a huge difference.

Let's be frank; the police don't always do the right thing. Sometimes they're brusque or dismissive. Sometimes they seem reluctant to take a report when we're clearly upset. These experiences can make us suspicious whether they care at all. But just like how sometimes you go to a restaurant and get a rude waiter, it doesn't necessarily mean the whole place is worthless. Of course, it always COULD be a crappy business run by people who don't care, and that's what Yelp is for. But in the case of the 71st, I've met some pretty decent folks and I think that in general it's worth giving them our business, and the benefit of the doubt.

A rep from D.A. Charles Hynes' office was there, and she added the "law" side to the "order" conversation. Basically, the D.A. is interested in prevention, prosecution, and limiting recidivism. Because ALL the enforcers in attendance agreed that it's basically the same folks who cycle in and out of the system who cause the majority of the problems. When a kid gets out after serving a couple months, where does he go? Right back where he was before. The cops know him; he knows the cops. Falk said sometimes the perps come right up and say hello to him as if they're glad to see him after some time in the pen. Another thing they noted: these guys just don't give a sh*t about authority. They'll fight with the blues, punch 'em, spit in their face. It's a generation of lost souls, and the cops are only so empowered to deal with them. That's where the D.A.'s programs to try to reform repeat offenders become crucial.

D.A. Hynes will also attend "roundtables" of local citizens and precinct bigs to come up with a comprehensive plan to root out the serious gang activity. That's what the Q is working on for his block; the hard drugs have to go. I'm tired of seeing crackheads and junkies on the corner waiting for goods at 8am. And I'm really tired of watching the block be taken hostage by a small group of guys thinking they're Scarface Jr's. Next stop, D.A. Not that the cops haven't been incredibly helpful and started investigating more seriously...but we need more help, and it may be on its way through the "law" side. I don't know; I'm making it up as I go along, but I've had a lot of support and I'm grateful for it.

But really folks. Call. Call. Call. The cops say they're there for you and got your back. So call, and maybe get to know who's on the other end of the line.


JDB said...

Wish I could have been at the meetings. Your point about calling is really important. There have certainly been times when I probably should have called the cops and did not because I did not think it was a big enough deal.

ElizabethC said...

I'm sorry that I missed the meeting (I had to spend all day in housing court, which is not the recipe for a good day). But I can tell you this: I call the police frequently. Let me first point out that it's the 70th precinct that I deal with. I've called the precinct and had NO ONE answer. I've called 311 more times than I can count, and I've called 911 a few times (and on a few occasions had to call them repeatedly because they DIDN'T RESPOND). I've written letters, and gotten ZERO response. I find it a little hard to believe that I am so unusual. I mean...really? I'm not saying that they never respond, but most calls that are not emergencies get routed through 311, and most of those just never get responded to. I feel for them, it's a hard job and definitely the same characters are the ones causing trouble on my block again and again. But I can't imagine agitating via phone more than I do.

Anonymous said...

I also believe that the cops do not get as many calls as we might think, but there are activities that they can respond to without receiving a call. Such as the ppl barbecuing on the sidewalk in front of 40 Lincoln all summer - it's VERY visible and definitely illegal, and encourages some hardcore loitering. The crowd with the 'cue is always high intoxicated as well, also obvious. That type of enforcement should not be regarded as the responsibility of average citizens - the police should get involved based purely on observation.

It's not that I don't think people should phone in disturbances, it's just that I think that community is held responsible for phoning in when we shouldn't have to, which I think is why many of us feel that the officers of the 71st are a bit apathetic.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Two points I'd like to respond to: First, when I texted Lt. Ferber at the 70th directly about a problem with a blaring stereo at 11:30pm on a car without tags, they were out there in two minutes with four cops. I think the issue is often WHO you speak to. Making a personal connection with a cop is a big leg up. The operator at the precinct is not always the best, so see if you can get a QofL cops cell phone and learn when they're on duty. But if the cops aren't responding to a 911 call, call again. And again. Til they show. I'm serious. That's how to get their attention. It's possible that they've prioritized another situation over yours. But I find it very rare indeed that I've called 911 and got absolutely no response. In fact, they often call me back when the call arrives if I've given my name and number! I have also never ever had a 911 call rerouted to 311. They don't even talk to each other...they tell me to call 311 sometimes but I just refuse and tell them a crime is in progress. If you call, and a serious crime happens, it's on THEM for not responding and there's a paper trail. I'm not saying they always get it right, but my experience is very different than yours Elizabeth. Whatever you do, don't downplay your 911 call. You don't have to lie, but you can say "there's a fight going on and I suspect knives or guns will be pulled." You're not lying, but your raise the expectation of felonies.

Furthermore, I'm not generally talking about barbecuing on the sidewalk or random quiet weed smoking. Call 911 and say two kids are smoking pot on the corner and yes, you're unlikely to get a prompt response. The cops generally gauge what quality of life issues are important to a neighborhood and which to let slide. For instance, the 78th may have learned never to tolerate such stuff, but in the 71st they may have decided over time to let people party and blow off steam from time to time. This is absolutely a deep issue about gentrification, and one that researchers like Lance Freeman of "There Goes the Hood" point to as a cultural difference, and one that worries some longtime residents. If they're used to going outside and drinking some beers in the summer, then newcomers start calling it a crime, it rankles feathers, sometimes unnecessarily. But if the vast majority of people in your building find it offensive and disruptive, you should definitely make it an issue. If you have a pres of tenant's association, they need to say the building is done tolerating it, and hold their feet to the fire til they change there behavior. Personally, I don't see how barbecuing and hanging out is such a big deal, unless violence is part and parcel. But that's just me, cuz one of the things that bugs me about Park Slope is how quiet and boring it is compared to what it used to be like. If you want that, I frankly think you may be in the wrong neighborhood, at least for the time being til market forces have their way. Again, just one opinion in the fray.

There are simply not enough cops for them to know what's going on in the countless trouble buildings and what matters most to us. That's why we must call, meet and even badger the cops if we care deeply. I'm sorry, I'm not backing down from that. I've met too many cops who echo that sentiment, and while (by the C.O.'s own admission) many cops are just putting in their "20 and out" and don't care, there are plenty that do. And those are the ones we need to encourage and bring into the fold. When you say "that type of enforcement should not be regarded as the responsibility of average citizens - the police should get involved based purely on observation" I think you're mistaken. It's not our job to enforce; but it IS our job to say we want them to enforce, at least when the crimes are not violent or life-threatening.

Anonymous said...

I get that, but laws are laws and should be enforced. That's the point of them. Have a BBQ a few hundred feet away in the park where it's permitted as an alternative. And I don't think I'm in the wrong neighborhood, I just feel like there should be a universal baseline for enforcement. No one wants a rowdy, drunken, screaming bunch of people also peddling drugs just outside their front door, tending to an open flame, and I don't think that enforcement of that particular scene take away from the neighborhood's feel. perhaps you're envisioning a calm well intended neighborly get together on the street - that is not the type of gathering that I'm talking about.

Les Notko al Policestate said...

It's illegal in NY to spit on the sidewalks. It's illegal in NY to smoke withink 15 feet of a building, or 100 feet of a school. It's illegal to jaywalk. For many years, consensual sodomy was a felony. Adultery is a crime. Many longstanding basement apartment outside historic districts are illegal. Enforcement would throw out tons of decent folks and bankrupt the homeowner landlords.

Do we really want to discuss whether ALL laws should be enforced equally? If drugs are being sold in front of a building, I think it's safe to assume that a majority of people would find that enough of a problem to expect the cops to act. Having a barbecue outside the building, even throwing back a few, doesn't cut it in my book. If it goes too late or gets too rowdy or loud, then that's the time to call.

Anonymous said...

Okay okay I partially retract! The sidewalk BBQ's are rowdy and run late, so they do seem to meet the consensus criteria for intervention by the cops.