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Queens Chronicle

NYPD’s 103rd Pct. speaks at CB 12

Precinct offers insight on reducing crime, police-community tensions

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Posted: Thursday, March 28, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:11 am, Thu Apr 4, 2013.

Very often it is not the lot of a police officer to be the bearer of good news.

But they are working to change that in the 103rd Precinct.

Officers from the precinct paid a visit to the March 20 meeting of Community Board 12 at the Robert Ross Johnson Family Life Center in St. Albans.

Lt. Frank Letterese, one of the precinct’s staff officers, presented updated crime statistics, with some categories going up and others going down from 2012.

“We had a shooting last week; we had gone eight and a half weeks without a shooting in the precinct,” he said to the approval of the group.

Overall major crimes are down 2 percent, even with some categories having uncharacteristically high increases over 2012.

“That may not seem like a large decrease, but it is,” Letterese said.

Grand larcenies — many of which Letterese attributed to things like unattended purses, wallets or items like cell phones — were down 47 percent from this time in 2012, falling from 111 to 61.

He also said that auto thefts for the year as of March 17 were up nearly 47 percent, rising from 32 last year to 47 this year.

“But we just arrested three guys who were responsible for 19 of those thefts,” he said. “We expect those numbers to go down.”

He said that robberies were up more than 40 percent — 107 as opposed to 75 — for the same period in 2012, and that there was no specific pattern or concentration geographically.

Police service came up, as did concerns with residents and parents worried about interactions with officers potentially going wrong.

One woman, upon asking why she so seldom sees patrol cars in her neighborhood in the north end of the precinct, was told that, while cars are operating 24-7, Letterese would check to make sure there are added patrols if needed.

He also counseled people to bring the police in when a resident asked how residents should deal with those in their neighborhoods who are known to have illegal guns.

“If you know where there are illegal guns, call me at the precinct,” he said. “We’ll respond to it.”

Hearing a complaint that an officer curtly and rudely brushed off a board member who happened to observe the arrest of three young men and asked why they were being arrested, Officer Marc Costa and Det. Richard Lowe, the community affairs officers at the 103rd, said they go to great lengths to make sure officers interact properly with the public.

“We take officers from Operation Impact and take them around,” Costa said, referring to officers who are not permanently assigned to the 103rd, but are sent to hot spots around the city on a continuous basis.

Costa also said people who feel they have been mistreated by an officer should start out by contacting the precinct or 311 — after the incident, saying there is nothing to be gained by a confrontation on the spot.

“My best advice if you are stopped is to comply with the officer,” he said. “You can make a complaint, but do it after.”

He said a complaint can begin with a call to his office or a visit to the precinct to pick up a formal complaint form.

“You can also call 311 if you don’t want to do it in person,” he said.

He said information that can assist police in investigating a claim includes the time and location of an alleged incident, and the officer’s name and shield number, which must be worn on an officer’s outermost garment.

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