Four alleged members of the Latin Kings gang were recently arrested on the border of Woodhaven and Ozone Park following an intensive investigation by the 102nd Police Precinct, relieving residents who said they have long been concerned about gang activity in the area.
Deputy Inspector Henry Sautner, commanding officer of the 102nd Precinct, said this week that the precinct arrested the four individuals on Oct. 24 around 88th Street and 95th Avenue – right by the London Planetree skate park. The arrests follow what Sautner said was a long-term investigation by the precinct’s gang division.
“These criminals are known to be Latin Kings members and have extensive criminal records,” the 102nd Precinct said in a prepared statement. “We are very thankful of the men and women of the NYPD making the community safer.”
The precinct did not release the names of those arrested, but police noted that the gang members were also nabbed with a loaded firearm.
The arrests have brought relief to Woodhaven residents and civic leaders, who said they have been concerned by gang activity in the neighborhood for a while. Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association President Ed Wendell noted, for example, that a 102nd police officer told a woman who had been mugged near the London Planetree skate park in August that “there was a lot of gang activity in the park.”
“That was a scary thing to be told,” Wendell said. “We see people in there at night – no one’s supposed to be there after dark.”
Wendell praised the 102nd for the recent arrests.
“They’re taking guns and bullets off the street that could have done harm to somebody,” the civic leader said. “Who knows whose life was saved because of this arrest… Thinking about the young people who were arrested, their lives have been potentially changed as well. They were going down a bad path – hopefully they’ll take this as an opportunity to turn their lives around.”
Still, Wendell stressed something that has been echoed time and again by civic leaders and area legislators alike for years: The 102nd needs more officers.
“We need more boots on the ground,” he said.
Reportedly, the skate park has become a hotbed of gang activity – specifically the Latin Kings, and residents said change needs to come to the area.
“If they’re in there, and they’re armed, that’s scary,” Wendell said. “How do you keep people out of the park? Parks need to be better lit – that’s one thing. Secondly, no one is supposed to be in a park after a certain time – they should enforce that. Laws are not made to be broken; they’re made to be enforced.”
By Anna Gustafson