Even as Tuesday’s meeting of the 102nd Precinct Community Council began in the basement of the Richmond Hill Library, the line to sign in was still out the door.
The packed room listened to Captain Hank Sautner, the commanding officer of the 102nd Precinct, discuss two major events that occurred within its jurisdiction in the past few weeks: the collapse of a vacant building in Woodhaven last Friday and the attack on a jogger in Forest Park on March 29.
Police thought they had captured the suspect, but later voided his arrest for the attack and rearrested him for a second attack in Woodhaven two days later.
Sautner said police are following a number of leads on the attack in Forest Park, but have fingered no suspects yet.
“We went back as far as two years to take a look at any unsolved crimes that have been sexual in nature against women that have been in the vicinity of the park and had sketches,” he said. “I want this guy caught. The bottom line is we’re going to need help from the community.”
Sautner added that extra patrols have been added to Forest Park since the attack.
“I got a lot of borough resources,” he said.
Sautner warned parkgoers to stay on the correct paths and not go into the park night.
“Anybody who is in that park after 9 o’clock is trespassing,” he warned.
Sautner also took questions from the audience on a number of quality-of-life issues, including noise, traffic and burglary issues. He said he had met with Deputy Inspector Thomas Pascale, the commanding officer of the adjacent 106th Precinct, on the issue of burglaries targeting homes of Hindu residents
A resident of the Forest Park Co-Ops said there are broken streetlights on a section of Park Lane South between 98th and 101st streets, adjacent to Forest Park. The resident also expressed concern over traffic utilizing the northbound service road of Woodhaven Boulevard during the morning rush hour when traffic backs up. Sautner said both issues have been on the precinct’s agenda, but require discussions with other city agencies that are not moving as fast as the captain wants.
“I think it’s a matter of getting the right people together,” he added.
Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association, brought up the issue of noise.
“We get tons and tons of calls from people,” he said. “Particularly, there are a number of repeat offenders.”
Sautner said he often meets with people who make repeat 311 calls to see what the problems at the site are. He also said that he is dedicating certain patrols, which he termed 311 Auto, to quality-of-life issues like noise.
“What they do is they go out to noise complaints and large groups,” he said.
The meeting’s special guest was Captain Mike Telfer, commanding officer of Transit District 20, the transit police bureau that covers most of Queens subways, except the A line in South Queens and the Rockaways.
Telfer introduced himself to the audience and discussed ways to keep items safe on the subways as the epidemic of robberies of smartphones and tablets continues. Telfer said police are putting undercover officers on trains carrying iPhones and iPads in order to catch thieves as they steal them. One undercover cop was robbed at the Woodhaven Boulevard J train stop. The thief was caught.
Telfer also took questions on panhandlers and street performers disrupting people on the subway, noting that transit police do step in when they do mock shows on the trains.
“We do arrest and summons them,” he said.
Telfer also commented on the turnout at the meeting.
“I commend you for coming out to these meetings,” he said. “I’m really, really impressed. I have never, ever seen a turnout like this. Keep on doing what you’re doing, because you’re doing a good thing.”