So I suppose that's all for the best, for now. It's a shame it took the last few major events to get the fuzz to wake up. Two years ago, members of the community started noticing an increase in gang activity. And I'm not talking about middle-aged guys hanging on street corners drinking beers or playing chess. I'm talking about drug dealers and gang bangers. To anyone with eyes it was clear, especially to longtime African-American and Caribbean-American residents I've gotten to know, who'd lived through tough times in the '80 and '90s. (Newcomers have their suspicions too, but sometimes they're not as quick to judge the good guys and the bad guys). We as a larger PLG community started meeting in churches in the neighborhood and talking to one another, and at State Senator Eric Adams Office. Adams even produced an ambitious (overly if you ask me) plan to A forum was hatched by the Councilman, then the D.A. then...then I got annoyed and posted this. If you go back on this blog you'll see one meeting after another, trying to develop a response and bring people together. They were all fascinating in their own way, but clearly nothing was happening. Really, nothing was happening but talk.
We will have big presence out there for the next few weeks. we are going to rtry and set the tone for the summer. When we loose the extra help, we will need your help in identifying Soproblem spots before they manifest themselves as acts of violence.
So I got sick of it and started a petition. Please sign it...when I presented it to Jack he was very impressed by the number of folks (325 so far) right here in this part of the Precinct who'd taken the time to sign in and vote their concern. He got a couple more cops, but frankly they've mostly been driving around - not exactly the Officer Friendly with a billy club we were hoping for. Still, a start.
But the response I got from him at that meeting still rings in my ears. I think it was middle of December, and he said "Tim, I know that folks have a feeling about that part of the precinct, but I just don't see the numbers yet to justify a wholesale change in tactics. We're getting killed on Utica, so we're focusing on that right now. But yes, we'll do our best to get more beat cops."
Well, now you've got the numbers, at least overall in the precinct, to backup wholesale change. Here they are: 35% rise in robberies. 55% rise in felony assaults. Grand Larceny up 32%. Overall crime up 22%. If the Lincoln Road victim dies, plus the Hawthorne shooting, that'll be 5 murders to 0. That's an...infinity rise in murders. All this is year to date year over year. THAT's why you're seeing all those officers.
You know the craziest part? When you talk to cops in the know, they'll tell you that a huge amount of crime can be traced back to two extended families. You heard right. One of them I'm very familiar with, all with the same last name, and they've menaced my block and others around it for years. Let's call them the Hatfields since I've no reason to get into details here. The McCoys are apparently no pussycats either, and are located a little north and east of me.
There are a couple other avenues of response that have worked elsewhere - the D.A.'s office and the Patrol Borough Brooklyn South, a broader group led by Asst. Chief Chan that doesn't adhere to strict precinct boundaries. I just wrote to Chan today, on the suggestion of Detective Martin Brown. The narc squad is already deeply involved. Don't know what it was about, but a kid got collared right in front of my house today.
One last thing. Pearl Miles, cantankerous but almost always truthful District Manager said tonight at a committee meeting: "It used to be every block had its watch. Every block association took care of its own and phoned in the trouble directly to the precinct. Now, all people ever do is plan block parties. There's none of that old working together to solve problems on the block." Food for thought.