Addressing this month’s Community Board 12 meeting on Feb. 20, Deputy Inspector Milt Marmara, commander of the 113th Precinct, indicated that, overall, there was a “slight reduction” in crime in the area in 2012 compared to the previous year, but stressed the need for members of the community and the Police Department to have greater cooperation, especially with the recent addition of 70 new police officers in the precinct.
There can be “no us and them,” he said. Instead, everyone must be “on the same page.”
According to Marmara, the total number of murders in the precinct fell from 17 to 16, while the number of reported rapes also dropped by one, or 3 percent, from 29 to 28.
The community also saw a drop of 14 percent in robberies, down from 415 the previous year to 354 last year. Burglaries also fell, by 9 percent, from 495 to 450.
Other statistics were less positive. Felony assault, including several cases in which police officers were involved, rose from 482 to 488. Grand larcenies also rose, from 690 to 763, or an increase of 10 percent, which Marmara categorized primarily as “kid on kid crime” involving technology products.
The number of stolen cars also increased, by 11 percent, from 241 to 269, as did the number of shootings in the district, which rose 15 percent, from 45 to 52.
Marmara also announced that so far this year there have been no murders committed in the precinct’s area and that cases of domestic crimes are “down drastically.” Robberies are on the rise, he said.
The evening’s other guest presenter was Carl Clay, executive director of the Black Spectrum Theatre, whose proposal of a new charter school in the community was met with mixed reactions from board members.
“We are in a situation where our schools are failing miserably,” Clay said. “Grades don’t reach the standards of the rest of the city. We’re faced with a crisis.”
Clay, who founded the theater over four decades ago, said, “Three years ago we decided to extend our reach,” in the form of the proposed Spectrum Charter School.
According to Clay, the school, which would have 375 seats for middle-school students in school districts 29, 28 and 27, would be committed to “preparing students for the 21st century.” Among the key elements would be an integrated theater arts program, an extended day, literacy across content areas and a focus on youth development.
Clay said the school is projected to open in 2014.
“What if we could have the young people with us all day and control the environment in which they’re being educated?” he rhetorically asked the members of the board.
“We decided a charter school should be controlled by the people in the community,” he said, adding that the mission of a school should be “in sync with the rest of the community.”
One board member suggested that as a school specializing in the arts, it would not serve the needs of all the students in the district. Another said, “I’m tired of us dancing and singing for everyone,” indicating a need to teach young people how to start their own businesses.
Another was of the belief that Clay was only interested in financial gains.
In his defense, another member of the board shared his personal story of how he gained valuable life experience from his involvement in Spectrum’s after-school performing arts program.
Reached after the meeting, Clay said in response to the financial allegation, “We’re trying to take our expertise in theater and apply it to the academic process. Are we doing this to get money? Absolutely not! Do you need money to do this? You bet you do!”
In other business, the board’s district manager, Yvonne Reddick, said the School Construction Authority is to begin construction on PS/IS 314, a new four-story elementary and intermediary school, at the end of February. The school, to be located at 88-08 164 St., will accommodate 831 students from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade and is scheduled to open in Sept. 2015.