Saturday, September 13, 2008

Run-Down of Last Week's Community Council Meeting

Many grateful thanks to John for visiting the 72nd Precinct's Community Council meeting last Tuesday and then sending along the main issues and discussion items.

He reports that there was standing room only, which means that well over 100 people attended. There were also representatives from the 72nd Precinct and Community Affairs, Sanitation, the Parks Department, and the DA's Office. State Senator Eric Adams spoke briefly before making a getaway (probably to another community meeting).

The meeting was chaired by the new Precinct Captain, Captain Pintos. According to John, Captain Pintos listened to all the questions and complaints, addressed them professionally, and he even took notes!

From John's email:

Most complaints were quality of life issues and how the police intended to address them, such as:
- prostitution on 3rd avenue
- loud noise from clubs on 4th/5th ave
- traffic issues - parking/tickets on 5th between 18th & 36th St
- crime/vandalism (car break-ins)

Issues focused on Sunset Park itself:
- gambling by the checker/chess board tables
- public urination
- drugs
- someone proposed a curfew for the kiddie park, from 10pm - 8am, as they have found used condoms and little plastic bags in the morning.

(As an aside, City playgrounds are supposed to be closed from dusk onward. The question that hasn't been resolved in Sunset Park is who is responsible for locking the gates?)

Capt Pinto cited a statistic that over 390 arrests have been made to date in the 72nd Precinct. Apparently, this is the highest number in the entire City. (No statistics or charts were cited, however.) He promised to continue having police presence in the park.

Another concern brought up during the meeting was insufficient response when residents called the precinct about quality of life issues like passed out drunks, prostitutes, or urination in or around buildings. Residents complained that common responses were that the Precinct had no available cars or that the situation was not an emergency. In most cases, residents said, no officers would show up. If they did, they sometimes gave the original caller "attitude" and ask why the police were called for a non-emergency issue. Naturally, this response goes directly against what the Mayor and the Captain himself have told residents to do about Quality of Life issues.

Captain Pintos promised to address the issue of perceived police unprofessionalism in particular. He asked that when anyone calls the precinct, request the name of the person with whom they are speaking. Therefore, if an incident happens, there is a reference
point. He pointed out that he would not tolerate unprofessional behavior from his officers.

It sounds like the meeting at least allowed residents to vent a bit, and it introduced the new Precinct Captain to the community. Hopefully, Captain Pintos' assertions of wanting to work with the community are more than just words for a first impression. I'm looking forward to seeing if the new Captain will bring new energy to the Precinct.

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