Ozone Park neighbors engaged in a shouting match at last week’s meeting of the 106th Precinct’s Community Council, arguing over a police crackdown on teenagers’ disorderly conduct in the neighborhood.
The police action was taken in response to numerous complaints from Chicot Road residents at the precinct’s November community council meeting about the problem of unruly teenagers and alleged alcohol and drug use.
As the raucous debate among the residents continued, council President Frank Dardani almost broke his gavel trying to restore order. Dardani lectured the group on the meeting rules of order they must follow if they want to be heard.
Although they disagreed on the facts, the Chicot Road residents in attendance all agreed that the block is now quiet and peaceful.
The parents of the teens who were the targets of last month’s complaints were vocal in their denials and criticized the reaction of the police.
One father stated that he felt the situation was handled inappropriately by the authorities. “My family has been on the block for 80 years without a problem,” he said, pointing out that the teens were good kids and not a gang.
Lt. Michael Coyle, commander of the 106th Precinct’s Special Operations Unit, agreed that they are good kids and clarified that he used the term “gang” in this instance to refer to kids as a group. But while he did not go into specifics, Coyle assured the parents that every teen that was arrested and brought into the precinct was there for a reason.
The parent continued to talk, but Dardani, in an effort to give other people a chance to speak, cut him off, noting that he had more than used up his allotted three minute time limit.
Another parent commented: “We are upset because they are good kids that are being labeled and I am not going to sit here and let my son’s future and all these kids’ futures be ruined.”
A teenager from the block told Coyle: “We don’t want any problems. We also don’t want to get arrested for no reason.” Coyle drew laughter as he responded: “You’ll never get arrested for no reason.”
Deputy Inspector John Doherty, commanding officer of the 106th Precinct, added a positive note, saying the teenagers “are all good kids when they are separate.” However, he added: “Together sometimes there is a wolf pack mentality.”
Coyle, who led the Chicot Road operation, said there are always two sides to a story. He added that all of the individuals he dealt with are decent people and that he got a positive response from each. Directing his comments to the residents of Chicot Road, Coyle said: “I hope that you can ease some of your tensions and get back to a working community on your block instead of two divisive entities.”