Even though a 15-year-old suspect has been caught and reportedly confessed to three of the recent strings of sexual assaults on women in southeastern Queens, that didn’t stop people from coming out to a town hall-style meeting that helped address safety issues in the community.
The meeting was held Monday night at the Robert Ross Johnson Family Life Center on Linden Bouelvard in Jamaica.
Elected officials, high-ranking officials of the NYPD and self-defense experts were among those who relayed safety tips.
City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) presided over and organized the meeting.
His recommendations to be safe were simple but practical.
He said that any lights on your property should be turned on at night. Also, if any hedges are obstructing the lights to your doors, you should cut them
One piece of advice he gave some may not even have thought of. He said that setting up a surveillance camera is a great idea that comes with an added bonus.
“You can also get an insurance credit from your insurance company,” he said.
When a woman commented on using Mace on an attacker, Comrie said he doesn’t think that is a viable solution.
“I would not lean on Mace as a problem solver,” he said. “If you don’t do it in a proper manner you wind up getting it used on you.”
Assemblyman Bill Scarborough (D-Jamaica) had harsh words for any future ruffians who might think about preying on vulnerable women.
“It is extremely important that our women be able to feel safe in and they can go about their business without feeling threatened. If one is attacked all are attacked,” he said.
“It is so necessary we learn how to protect ourselves, learn what’s going on and we send a message to any degenerates that this community is alive and awake and aware and will not stand for these things.”
When Patrol Borough Queens South Assistant Chief James Secreto announced to the attendees that a suspect had been caught, it brought relief to the crowd.
“We could not do it without community help,” he said.
The youth has been charged with two attacks, but published reports say he has confessed to three. That could not be confirmed.
Secreto did give a warning about being distracted by your mobile phone and said you should instead keep aware of what is going on around you.
“You should be more aware of your surroundings especially late at night,” he said. “Don’t bury and immerse yourself in other things.”
With the high crime rate in Jamaica and surrounding areas, especially among young people, resident Renita McMillan was upset that there were no activities for young people to take part in and stay out of trouble. She was particularly upset over the lack of a community center.
“There is nothing for those kids to do,” she said. “You can’t just lock them up and send tasks force and do sweeps and don’t offer them anything else.”
While Comrie agreed with her, he said that due to financial constraints, a community center would not be a viable option.
“That’s not an option that I have,” he said reluctantly, adding, “We do need to open our arms as a community and find other things for them to do.”
When the officials had stopped speaking, two area martial arts groups, Zen Masters, a taekwondo group and Sirat al Sayf International MMA, gave demonstrations on unarmed and armed combat, respectively.