Carjackings, robberies, home invasions—these are, after all, the things we read about in the newspaper right? Things we see on TV news. Those things don’t happen here—not in Howard Beach. Well at least they didn’t use to…
But the violent attack just last week, on a local businessman as he walked to his car at 10:30 at night, steps off Cross Bay Boulevard, across the street from a well-lit Kentucky Fried Chicken, doors down from the Hess station at the corner, has set this town on its feet. The attack came on the heels of yet another gunpoint carjacking a week before that, just about two blocks away.
During the course of the last two weeks, I have heard the same comment, at Waldbaum’s and at Crossbay Chemist. In Ragtime and at Gap Kids. In Dr. Hershfeld’s and at Bruno’s. At the bank, in the street, on line at New Park and pumping gas at Hess. Over and over and over again in one form or another: “Where are the cops?” “I never see a cop here anymore.” In fact, I am amazed at just how many variations of that phrase there actually are.
In any case, regardless of the words used, the message is still the same: Howard Beach is unsafe.
In conversations with the police sources at the 106 over the course of the last few weeks concerning two carjackings, the robbery of Ragtime Newsstand, captured on video camera within the same time period and around 4 a.m., and other serious personal and property crimes that have taken place in the neighborhood recently, we have thus far learned that which we basically already knew: The distribution of resources in a police precinct follows a very routine protocol. Cops are assigned by a priority distribution system where need is the single most consequential factor. Cops go where trouble is. It’s a plain and simple rule of NYPD thumb.
We have also received confirmed reports from the police that since the incidents began, they have increased personnel in Howard Beach. An infusion of resources came from the borough command and other city units as well.
There is another standard proviso that we know to be true: Communities get cops when they demand them.
Whenever this newspaper asks you to trust our judgment, I think it’s safe to say we do so with the best interests of the community at heart. I’m really asking that you take this advice to heart and mind and soul. Take it where ever you have to take it to, but rest assured this is no pass-the- buck, let the next guy do it situation. Howard Beach needs to take a stand together and demand the police resources that are required for safety.
There is no more powerful deterrent to crime than physical police presence. There is nothing that will guarantee our safety that remotely compares to the effect of having more police on duty. There is no other way to get that except to make that request heard.
Begin with an email or write directly to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and call 311 to report the absence of police and the escalation of serious, violent crime. It’s time to pressure the people in charge of protecting us. The more calls and letters the commissioner and One Police Plaza receive, the more attention will be paid to the situation.
Lastly and most importantly we urge you to join your neighbors who will meet at the 106th Police Precinct Council meeting on Wednesday night, December 11 at 7:30 p.m. The meeting is the best opportunity to speak personally with the Commanding Officer of the precinct, Deputy Inspector Jeffrey Schiff and other police personnel.
Feeling frightened on our streets is clear indication that something is very wrong.
This isn’t about luxury vehicles being stolen. This is about our family. Our friends. Our neighbors. Our homes. Our community. Our lives.
We shouldn’t have to wait for crime to happen before we have enough cops on the street to say it didn’t happen.