The 104th Precinct has begun the arduous task of rebuilding its community council from scratch.
The council, required by the NYPD in every precinct, has been inactive since this past spring when Michael Hetzer, who had been running it, was arrested in May on a grand larceny charge for allegedly misappropriating unrelated escrow funds placed in his care.
“And he was really a one-man show,” said Deputy Inspector Michael Cody, commanding officer of the 104th Precinct.
Cody, 104th Community Affairs Officer Thomas Bell and representatives of the NYPD’s Community Affairs Bureau met with about two dozen community residents at Our Lady of Hope School in Middle Village on Sept. 26.
“It’s about good community relations,” Cody said. “It’s also about making our job easier.”
Cody said NYPD regulations require certain things, such as a president and four other designated council officers who live within the precinct.
But he also said the regulations give great latitude at the local level for how the council functions and what activities it conducts.
Meeting sites, for example, are discretionary. Meetings in the 104th in the last few years had been piggybacked with other civic organizations in order to rotate them around the precinct.
“Some councils meet at their precinct,” Cody said. “I prefer to be out in the community.”
NYPD employees and elected or appointed officials are not allowed to be officers, with the exception of community board members. The precinct covers Glendale, Maspeth, Ridgewood and Middle Village.
A group was formed at the meeting to recruit and evaluate candidates for the elected offices, though it is expected to take at least a few months.
The group has traditionally met on the fourth Wednesday of the month so as not to conflict with the numerous other civic organizations in the four neighborhoods, and regulations state that no one may run for office or vote for officers until he or she has attended three straight meetings.
But Bell and Officer Otoniel Jimenez of the Community Affairs Bureau said they were not limited to meeting once a month if they could schedule more frequent meetings conveniently.
“We want you to go and tell other people,” Bell said. “We want this to be a large group.”
“But we also want to do it right,” Cody added.
In other precinct business, Cody said major crime is down 1.54 percent for the year in statistics compiled through Sept. 23.
The reduction is being fueled largely by a 16.8 percent drop in grand larceny auto crimes, down to 159 from 191 reported this time last year.
Grand larceny incidents also have fallen from 385 to 374, a drop of 2.9 percent. Robberies and felony assaults, however, have ticked up more than 5 percent each. Rape complaints, at 11, are unchanged from a year ago.