It was shortly after midnight on New Year’s Day when police from the 103rd Precinct seized their first pair of illegal handguns for 2014.
But to hear Inspector Charles McEvoy tell it Tuesday night, his officers were just picking up where they left off in 2013, and the numbers bear him out.
“In 2013, we were down about 2 percent in major crimes,” he said. “That’s a small number, but it still is down.”
Murders dropped from 10 in 2012 to 8. Reductions also were seen in robberies, burglaries, grand larceny and auto theft. Rapes, he said, were up by a total of three. Most were domestic in nature, where the attacker and victim knew each other, rather than a criminal stalking a random victim.
Numbers for shootings and shooting victims also dropped sharply. McEvoy believes that the drop in most areas is due to an increase in another very important one — that of illegal guns seized during the previous 12 months.
McEvoy said 2013 saw his officers effecting arrests in 59 incidents involving the seizure of illegal weapons which resulted in 62 guns taken off the streets of the 103rd Precinct. Officers seized 57 guns in 47 incidents the previous year.
But the glaring increase in 2013 was the number of people arrested in such incidents — 118 last year compared with 92 in 2012, an increase of more than 25 percent.
“All due to good police work and people in the community who want to be involved,” he said. “If you see illegal drug activity in your neighborhood, I guarantee there is an illegal gun somewhere nearby. Let us know. We can investigate. We can get search warrants, and good things happen when we get search warrants. We catch a lot of bad people doing bad things.”
And in response to a question from the audience, McEvoy said the sound of gunshots always should be a 911 call.
“You might be in your house and can hear them from three blocks away, not knowing where they came from. Call us and tell us where you are. We’ll send someone to look around and investigate.”
In other news from the meeting, Council Member Owen Clinton said the board is setting up an email list for people interested in keeping tabs on the group’s activities; and also has set up a Facebook page.
“Sign up and take a look,” he said. “We can get more information out that way than we can from sending out postcards that get returned.”
Representatives of Councilman Ruben Wills (D-Jamaica), Assemblyman Bill Scarborough (D-Jamaica), state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis) and District Attorney Richard Brown were in attendance to make themselves available to residents. So was a community liaison for new Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) who filled the seat vacated by James Gennaro, and which serves a portion of the 103rd Precinct.