With citywide crime down 35 percent from 10 years ago, why do city residents say that things are getting worse?
Vivian McMillan, the 113 Precinct community council president, believes the answer is that people aren’t involved enough in their communities and precincts. “The police can only do so much if the public isn’t cooperating with them,” McMillan said. “We need to work together to put a stop to crime.”
South Jamaica’s 113 Precinct has had a 20 percent rise in crime this year, one of the largest increases in any city precinct.
All crime rates have increased in the 113 except for grand larceny auto, which decreased 26 percent. The largest rises are felony assault, which has increased 67 percent from last year, and rape, which has increased 36 percent.
To combat the increase in crime, the 113 is putting out extra patrols on weekends. “There are cops from other precincts who come into our area to help,” McMillan said. “I’m sure we are going to be able to address the high crime rates in the future.”
Overall crime rates have decreased 3.9 percent in northern Queens and increased 5.83 percent in southern Queens since last July, according to NYPD’s CompStat.
The CompStat system has been a topic of controversy over the past few years. Some people believe that it’s not an accurate enough representation of crime across the city. Others believe it’s an excellent way to measure crime throughout the boroughs.
Evelyn DeCoursey, the 110 Precinct community council president, said the percentages CompStat provides precincts with are very important. “The inspector actually reads the CompStats at each meeting,” DeCoursey said. “He also reads them at community meetings, and the community likes hearing the figures. Officers even tell the community what’s going on in the precinct and who’s been doing what.”
McMillan believes that CompStat may or may not be necessary. “We don’t really need CompStat to tell us what’s going on, because we’re in the community and we know what’s going on,” McMillan said.
Donna Clopton, community council president of the 103 Precinct, says residents always complain about CompStat. “People who live in precinct communities tend to see more people not reporting crimes, so they feel CompStat isn’t accurate,” Clopton said. “At the 103 Precinct, we wish we could get more people involved in programs and things like that. Once we’ve reached the point where we’re not going to stand for crime, there are less problems. The minute we see something, we band together.”
Amy Anderson, a Jamaica resident for 66 years, is worried about quality of life issues plaguing the area. Anderson said something she’ll never forget is when one of her 88-year-old girlfriends was struck down by an assailant while walking to her house. “She broke her left hip, and she’s been in the hospital for over a year now,” Anderson said. “If elderly people can’t take a walk, there’s something very wrong.”
Anderson and one of her neighbors, Alma Lee, both said that the police do a terrific job, but they don’t respond to crime quickly enough. “When things happen, the police usually aren’t around,” Lee said. “They usually do come, but not fast enough.”
Some citizens have said that monumental crimes which affect the entire city, like the recent Leiby Kletzky murder in Brooklyn, can cause people to believe crime is getting worse when statistics show it’s not. “I think it’s very, very unfortunate, but it’s just one event,” DeCoursey said. “It’s not fair to say that crime is going up when it’s really not.”
McMillan has worked at her precinct for over 30 years, and she’s witnessed major changes in crime levels and how residents feel about them. “They feel that there was a lot of crime back then, but there’s not as much these days.”
She also believes that the murder of Leiby was an abnormal event. “Something like that received national attention. It’s not normal for our communities,” she said. “We have people all over who have problems, and the best way to combat this is talking. If you see something, say something.”
In northern Queens neighborhoods, accounts of burglary, grand larceny auto, misdemeanor assault and misdemeanor sex crimes dropped 13 percent, 21 percent, 6 percent and 12 percent from last year. Murders have increased from 15 incidents last year to 17 this year, a 13 percent rise. Rape has increased 24 percent, going from 62 charges to 77, and robbery has increased 1 percent, going from 927 incidents to 934.
In southern Queens neighborhoods, accounts of murder, robbery and grand larceny auto decreased 38 percent, 2.5 percent and 8 percent. The charges which increased the most were rape, an 11 percent rise from 71 to 79 accounts, and burglary, an 8.5 percent rise from 1,061 to 1,151 accounts. Grand larceny has increased 2 percent.
Rockaway’s 100 Precinct also has some of the highest crime rates in the borough. It has seen an overall increase of 29 percent in crime since last year.
Danny Ruscillo, the 100 Precinct community council president, said Wednesday that more cops are out on patrol all over Rockaway, but he strongly believes that there aren’t enough officers to go around.
“I hope the mayor and the police commissioner open up the academy again,” Ruscillo said. “We need more cops. It’s putting a big strain on the police officers.”
Ruscillo’s son just graduated from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and now wants to be a part of the NYPD. The only problem is that there aren’t any jobs available at this time.
“And the lack of cops isn’t just here in Queens, it’s in all the boroughs,” Ruscillo said.
One of the largest issues in Rockaway Park is the Rockaway Park Hotel at 158 Beach 116 St. The hotel serves as a residence for people going to local rehabilitation clinics, but these people create problems for local residents and merchants.
Between the months of September and July, three arrests were made at the hotel and eight police reports were filed as a result of criminal incidents like robbery and assault.
“From September to early July, we have had 47 calls to 911 requesting police assistance at this location,” Ruscillo said. “My opinion is that the owner’s only interest is collecting the funding to operate his residence.”
A task force comprised of the Buildings Department, the FDNY, the NYPD and over a dozen officials entered the hotel recently to search for problems within the building.
There have been no reported murders in the 100 Precinct this year, however almost all other crimes have gone up. Accounts of burglary increased nearly 100 percent from last year, rising from 31 to 61.
Year-to-date crime statistics as of July 24, 2011 vs. that week in 2010
Patrol Borough Queens North
Murder — 18 vs. 18
Rape — 85 vs. 67
Robbery — 990 vs. 998
Burglary — 1292 vs. 1467
Grand Larceny — 2304 vs. 2165
Petit Larceny — 5277 vs. 5148
Felony Assault — 933 vs. 865
Misd. Sex Crimes — 206 vs. 199
Patrol Borough Queens South
Murder — 23 vs. 39
Rape — 82 vs. 74
Robbery — 1139 vs. 1176
Burglary — 1247 vs. 1137
Grand Larceny — 1559 vs. 1521
Petit Larceny — 3476 vs. 3439
Felony Assault — 1142 vs. 931
Misd. Sex Crimes — 152 vs. 150