Capt. Henry Sautner, the new commanding officer of the 102nd Precinct, stood at the podium in the community room in the Richmond Hill Library basement during Tuesday’s community council meeting and ran through the year-to-date crime statistics. Overall crime was steady in the precinct. But one problem has been plaguing the area.
“What we’re seeing is a significant increase in pedestrian accidents,” Sautner said.
Just last week a man was killed after he fell off a traffic island on Woodhaven Boulevard and was hit by a passing car.
“Jamaica and Woodhaven is one of the places where we’re taking a look,” Sautner said.
He explained that the cause of the accidents are split between pedestrian causes — situations like jaywalking or distractions — and drivers who may run stop signs or red lights. Sautner said his officers are working to enforce traffic regulations, but he noted they do not have much control over some of the pedestrian causes, such as texting while crossing the street.
“It shouldn’t be any different for pedestrians,” Sautner said. “I’m going to respectfully say that there’s not a phone call that important that it can’t wait until you cross the crosswalk.”
A parent of a student at PS 161 said other parents picking up children with their cars are creating a dangerous situation where students, parents and even the crossing guard have nearly gotten hit by cars. She added that the cars sometimes block access to bus stops where special needs students need to board school buses.
The precinct’s Cop of the Month award was given to Officer Joseph Cortright for his work in apprehending a thief who stole a purse from an elderly woman on a Woodhaven street. The suspect, a 17-year-old male whom Sautner said was known to the precinct for other robberies, was also wanted in connection with stealing a purse at a laundromat in Woodhaven.
“It was real nice police work, good patrol work,” Sautner said.
The captain also took concerns about truant students in Forest Park during the school days, sometimes allegedly smoking marijuana. Sautner said the complaint didn’t surprise him, but that truancy has not gotten worse in the precinct.
“We are even on the amount of truancy numbers in the 28-day period and down for the year, Sautner said. “But we will certainly be responsive to that and get out there.”