An audible gasp was heard in the room when Capt. Hank Sautner, the commanding officer of the 102nd Precinct, announced arrests were up in the precinct at Tuesday’s community council meeting in the basement of the Richmond Hill library.
Arrests rose over 10 percent this year in the 102nd Precinct and felony assaults rose more than 200 percent year to date; 24 total versus only 8 by this point in 2012.
But Sautner warned the reality is not as dire as the statistics make it sound.
“The majority of those are domestic-related,” he said, breaking down the numbers. Twenty of the 24 felony assaults were domestic incidents, he said, and there was a suspect under arrest in 19 of them.
He noted that certain segments of the population living in the 102nd Precinct would in the past not report domestic incidents, but now they do, and that could be driving the rise.
“I would be more than happy to answer about those increases in crime if we are protecting and saving a child, a husband, a wife,” Sautner said.
Sautner said overall crime was stable in the communities the precinct serves.
He took a series of questions from the attendees on a number of quality-of-life issues, most notably a situation that has developed in Woodhaven concerning students from nearby JHS 210 at dismissal.
One Woodhaven resident said school kids from the Ozone Park middle school still congregate on residential streets and have done damage to his and his neighbors’ properties.
“They stand in the streets and actually dare cars to hit them,” another resident said.
Sautner said he knew of an assault involving kids from JHS 210 at a Burger King in the Pathmark Shopping Center last Friday.
“Many of those students come from outside our area: Brooklyn, Jamaica and the Rockaways,” Sautner said, adding that they gather near locations where buses and trains are available to take them home, such as Atlantic and Jamaica avenues and Woodhaven Boulevard.
Sautner responded to concerns that he was not assigning enough officers to the area around JHS 210, but plenty at other schools such as Richmond Hill High School
“Richmond Hill High School is our largest school,” he said. “But we make sure we have officers at any school where they’re needed.”
Captain Elwood Selover, commanding officer of the Citywide Vandals Task Force, the NYPD unit that focuses on graffiti and other vandalism, was a special guest speaker at Tuesday’s meeting. He discussed ways his unit is targeting graffiti vandalism across the city and gave tips on how to help target the perpetrators, including keeping an eye open for common tags and taking photos of graffiti and sharing them with police officers at the precinct.
Maria Thomson, president of the Woodhaven Business Improvement District, said her group has taken the initiative to combat graffiti not only on Jamaica Avenue, but elsewhere in Woodhaven when funds permit. She mentioned that while she sometimes recognizes the tags or what they say, she often cannot discern what a piece of graffiti says, and that leaves people like her wondering if a picture would be of any use to police.
“I know of your group and the work you have done,” Selover said. “Keep in mind that even if you can’t identify the tag, I may be able to.”
Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association, told Selover vandals had been tagging mailboxes and volunteers cleaned them up last usmmer.
“We’re going to go back out and do it again,” he told Selover.