School safety was the top priority at the 113th Precinct Community Council meeting on Monday.
The New York Communities for Change youth council, led by Andrea Harris, addressed those in attendance. Each of the young people spoke about issues in their schools.
The youths and students talked about bullying, fighting, gangs, drinking, smoking and even drug abuse in schools. The schools they cited included MS 72, PS 140 and Flushing High School.
The plan is for the students to take the problems in their schools to the PTAs and get parents to give input and help stop such problems, specifically bullying, in schools.
“You guys are great and show bravery,” Deputy Inspector Miltiadis Marmara, commanding officer of the 113th, told the students. “We are now working with school safety agents. You have my pledge, anything you need we will help you with.”
The biggest complaint Harris had was that the school safety officers are not required to leave the schoolyard and do not monitor past that. But outside is where a majority of the fights occur. Also, the school safety officers become friends with the students instead of doing their job, she claimed.
MS 72 Principal Omotayo Cineus was in attendance. She said she has added deans and safety procedures, including a monthly safety meeting.
“I encourage students to talk and address problems,” she said, adding, “I have an open door policy for all parents.”
Cineus, along with PTA president Mahalia Prescod-Onuzureike, encouraged all parents and residents to come to the schools and speak up about problems and any solutions.
One student offered a solution, requesting a new sports team or clinic to help build camaraderie among students.
Also speaking were the precinct’s Law Enforcement Explorers, a youth group ranging from ages 12 to 17, whose goal is to break the barrier between cops and kids. The organization teaches leadership, provides role models and holds community events.
In other news within the precinct, Marmara said the 113th Precinct ranks second out of 76 New York precincts in crime reduction. Murder is down to six this year, after 16 to this point last year. Rapes, robberies, burglaries, grand larcenies, shootings and car break-ins are all down as well.
Assaults for the most recent 28-day period, however, are up to 44 compared to 34 last year. The increase comes from youth-related incidents, domestic issues and officers being assaulted, police said
The biggest decrease is the shooting rate, which is down from 49 last year to 33 this year. Marmara said shootings haven’t been down this low since 2001.
The last shooting was on Sunday, when a man shot an 18-year-old. The suspect was arrested on the spot.
The next Community Council meeting will be on Nov. 18 at the precinct, which is located at 167-02 Baisley Blvd. in Jamaica.