The brisk temperatures outside did not deter dozens of residents from coming to the 106th Precinct Community Council’s final meeting of the year in Ozone Park last week to express their complaints and ask the police for help with parking problems.
Before addressing the complaints, Capt. Robert Sparks, the precinct’s executive officer, reported that major index crimes, including murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, grand larceny and auto theft, dropped 3 percent compared to the same 28-day period last year.
Sparks also said that a burglar, who the officer called a career criminal, had been arrested by police last week in the eastern part of the precinct.
“We are hoping with that arrest to see a drop-off in burglaries,” Sparks said.
Several residents at the council meeting expressed their own concerns to Sparks.
Leana, an Ozone Park resident who did not give her last name, had complained at last month’s meeting about her neighbors putting out orange traffic cones in front of their homes on 88th Street between 107th Avenue and Sutter Avenue to save parking spaces. She said she was happy this month that police had removed the cones and freed up the parking spaces. However, she said that one neighbor had obtained another traffic cone to save a much-coveted space.
Deacon Joseph Wolt of the Zion Tabernacle Church in Ozone Park said he was concerned about a possible increase in burglaries and break-ins in the community after the opening of the Resorts World New York City Casino in South Ozone Park. He asked if the 106th Precinct would be getting additional officers.
Precinct Council President Frank Dardani said that elected officials are aware of the situation and are pressing Police Commissioner Ray Kelly for more police officers to be assigned to the 106th Precinct.
Sparks said the 106th Precinct has received approval for weekend overtime for police officers, which translates into additional manpower, since the casino opened. He added that there is a detail that works in the casino area from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. and a second shift from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.
Sparks added that the precinct tracks all activity at the casino and surrounding area so they can document to police headquarters if additional resources are needed.
The captain said that after the new year police manpower for the casino area would be reassessed to see if the current overtime would be continued or if additional officers would be assigned to the precinct on a permanent basis.
Precinct Community Affairs Officer Ken Zorn said there were only three recent reported robberies that occurred inside the casino. All involved people with no prior criminal records, he said. One was the theft of a winning ticket and another being the theft of a handbag when the owner momentarily turned her head to play the slot machine.
Sparks said that ,with the casino’s sophisticated video surveillance equipment, the suspects were identified and arrested.
Sparks told the audience that he met with personnel from the city Department of Transportation last week for an onsite inspection to see what they could do to alleviate traffic congestion in the casino area.
Lindenwood resident Jose Zambrana told Sparks there were two cars with covers over them that had been parked for several months in front of 80-65 Shore Parkway.
“It’s just an eyesore,” he said.
He added that with the tarps over the cars it was impossible to see the sidewalk.
Dardani suggested that the cars should be parked in a garage and not on the street.
Charlie, who did not give his last name, reported that last week car tires were stolen at 129th Avenue and 96th Street in Ozone Park. He said that was the third set of tires that were stolen in the area in recent weeks.
A resident of 117th Street in South Ozone Park advised the council members that his wife had recently received a telephone call, purportedly from her bank, asking her to verify her Social Security number. She refused and called her bank who advised her that they had not called her and told her that someone was trying to open up a bank account in her name. He advised the audience to be alert should this happen to them.
Wolt alerted Sparks to what he called a dangerous traffic condition at the Rite Aid drug store located at 96th Street and Rockaway Boulevard in Ozone Park. He said that motorists not wanting to wait for the long red light at that intersection are taking a short cut through the Rite Aid parking lot.
“It’s illegal; it’s an accident waiting to happen,” he said.
“If you could put a cop there for one day they would get the message and your pen hand would get tired (from writing summonses),” said Wolt.
Zorn said that although a police officer could not be assigned there every day, he said if police observe the violation they will issue a summons.