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Local News April 4, 2013  RSS feed

7 TRAIN CRIME DROPS

Overnight Patrols Help, Says Top Transit Cop
story and photo
by Max Jaeger


P.O. Matthew Wicelinski of NYPD Transit Bureau helps a resident register her smart phone with the NYPD at last Tuesday’s 108th Precinct Community Council meeting. The program assists the NYPD in tracking down stolen phones. P.O. Matthew Wicelinski of NYPD Transit Bureau helps a resident register her smart phone with the NYPD at last Tuesday’s 108th Precinct Community Council meeting. The program assists the NYPD in tracking down stolen phones. The 108th Precinct led the city in transit crimes last year, and transit police have mounted a campaign to bring those numbers down, according to the commanding officer of the NYPD Transit Bureau’s 20th District, who spoke during the 108th Precinct Community Council meeting, last Tuesday, Mar. 26, at Sunnyside Community Services.

There were 68 transit crimes in the 108th Precinct’s confines in 2012, Capt. Mike Telfer reported. He said the most common crime was grand larceny—usually phone snatchings or purse and wallet thefts.

As a result, MTA cops are increasing their presence in the precinct and especially on the 7 train.

“We have an inordinate amount of transit cops assigned to the [108th precinct],” Telfer said. “Our goal is to have a cop on every train.”

Indeed, the transit authority is moving in that direction, but Telfer said the scenario is unlikely.

“Nobody has enough cops,” he admitted.

Telfer said over the last three weeks, the force has stationed an officer on every weekend 7 train after midnight. Subway crimes in the area have gone down as a result, he said.


Capt. Mike Telfer (at left), commanding officer of the NYPD Transit Bureau’s 20th District, and Deputy Inspector Donald Powers (at right), 108th Precinct commander, spoke at last Tuesday’s 108th Precinct Community Council meeting in Sunnyside. 
(photos: Max Jaeger) Capt. Mike Telfer (at left), commanding officer of the NYPD Transit Bureau’s 20th District, and Deputy Inspector Donald Powers (at right), 108th Precinct commander, spoke at last Tuesday’s 108th Precinct Community Council meeting in Sunnyside. (photos: Max Jaeger) Telfer added the bureau will continue to post officers on trains at night to wake up sleepers—who are often victimized—and act as a general deterrent.

The Transit Bureau divides the city into districts, while the police divides it into precincts. The 108th precinct falls within transit district 20. As a result, Telfer is responsible for safety in the subways throughout the 108th precinct.

Wanted posters

Glendale residents have people in Woodside on the lookout, thanks to a series of reward posters that have sprung up there in the zone where the 104th and 108th precincts meet.

The bills advertise a $500 reward for information regarding a string of residential burglaries that has been hitting Maspeth just south of the dividing line that separates the 104th and 108th precincts.

The issue came up three weeks ago at the 104th Precinct/Glendale Civilian Observation Patrol meeting. As previously reported in the Times Newsweekly, members at the session stated they would begin putting up wanted flyers to help stop the burglars.

Deputy Inspector Donald Powers, commanding officer of the 108th Precinct, told the council last Tuesday that the burglaries had not jumped across the precinct border to Sunnyside. He noted that burglaries are down 51 percent for the year, and there have been no discernable patterns in the break-ins that have occurred.

Powers noted the precinct took down four burglary crews last May.

“I think it’s safe to say, we’re still reaping the benefits of that,” he said. “We got some good sentences on some of these guys, so they’re going to be out of circulation for a number of years.”

The last burglary in the area of the precinct in question was Mar. 6, he said.

‘Mayhem’ in Windmuller Park

Residents in Woodside are literally losing sleep over kids being in the park after closing. Noise and concern are keeping people awake, according to a handful of residents.

“It’s mayhem in Windmuller Park,” said one resident, who claimed kids were setting fires in the bandshell.

Residents told Powers that they want a quicker response when they complain of nuisances in the park.

Powers told the audience the area is under the parks department’s jurisdiction, adding response time is long because there are more pressing emergencies in the city.

“If they start a fire, would they be arrested?” one resident asked. “Because you call [the police] and nobody comes.”

Two other residents echoed the sentiment, saying police response time is too long.

“If we’re not there right away, it means were somewhere else with a heavier emergency,” Powers responded. “The reality is ... I don’t have the manpower to put a cop in every park.”

Powers said the precinct has a team with a list of parks to check up on over the course of the night.

In addition, Powers recently took a Parks Department official on a ridealong and pointed out specific problem areas, including Windmuller Park, he said.

When residents asked if the 108th precinct had a gang issue, Powers replied, “No.”

P.O. Louis Sorrentino, the Community Affairs Liaison for the precinct, corroborated, saying there may be groups of neighborhood kids running around, but nothing that constitutes a criminal gang.

Crime stats

Crime is down 5.07 percent for the year in the 108th Precinct, records indicated. There have been 262 crimes reported since Jan. 1 and 276 reported this time last year, according to Powers. Burglary took the strongest dip falling from 74 to 36 year-to-date—a 51 percent decrease.

Robberies and auto thefts have also decreased 15 percent and 14.8 percent respectively. There were 40 robberies by Mar. 24, 2012. This year there have been 34. Auto thefts are down four from 27 this time last year. Grand larcenies have increased this year from 104 to 134, representing a 28.8 percent increase.

As of Mar. 24, there have been two more reported rapes this year compared to this time last year, with a total of six. Felony assaults are up two with 29 this year.

There were no murders reported this year or last in the 108th Precinct.

Ongoing investigations

Residents asked about a number of investigations the 108th Precinct is conducting.

Powers told the council that the Lou Rispoli homicide case remains open and the precinct is pursuing leads. He added the internal investigation sparked by the case remains ongoing, as well, and declined to comment further. One resident asked about an investigation into the car accident that claimed a teen’s life in Long Island City.

“I heard all [the driver] got was a summons? ... Why isn’t something more stringent being done to the driver?” the resident asked.

Powers stated the investigation was now under the supervision of the Highway District Accident Investigation Squad.

“When [the 108th Precinct was] involved on that day, there was no criminality,” Powers said.

The summons was issued because the driver did not have insurance. A breathalyzer was administered at the site of the accident, and the driver had not been drinking, according to Powers.

The 108th Precinct’s Community Council meetings are typically held at 7 p.m. on the last Tuesday of every month at Sunnyside Community Services, 43-31 39th St. in Sunnyside. The next meeting is scheduled for Apr. 30.