There was standing room only at last week’s gathering of the 106th Precinct Community Council in Ozone Park, as residents packed the police station’s meeting room to voice their complaints about such issues as drivers evading red lights, speeding cars, exhaust fumes and loose dogs.
Before addressing the complaints, Capt. Thomas Pascale, the precinct’s commanding officer, asked residents to notify the police with any information they have that may help the police solve a crime. Noting a 22 percent increase in robberies of Apple products citywide, the captain advised the audience members to be aware of their surroundings when walking with such items as smart phones.
“Please be discreet when you use these devices,” Pascale said.
The captain urged smart phone owners to never turn off their devices, in case of theft. Most have GPS tracking, he noted, which the police can use to locate the stolen equipment and arrest the perpetrator.
Pascale cautioned residents to be careful when using such websites as Craigslist to make purchases.
He told the audience of there were two recent incidents in the precinct when prospective buyers were robbed by sellers of automobiles listed for sale on Craigslist when they met the seller with their cash in hand to buy the vehicle.
Pascale warned residents to know who they are dealing with when they answer ads.
Several residents at the council meeting expressed their own concerns to Pascale.
Ozone Park resident Joseph Wolt complained about what he called a continuing dangerous condition at the Rite Aid Drug store parking lot at 96th Street and Rockaway Boulevard.
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.
Although Community Affairs Officer Ken Zorn said police have been issuing summonses to motorists for the violation, Wolt said the problem persists.
William Ruiz, of Ozone Park, was concerned about cars being broken into on 78th Street between Liberty Avenue and Glenmore Avenue.
He said that two or three cars have been broken into about every other week.
Pascale said that police believe they know who is responsible for the break-ins and the individual is now in jail and when the suspect is released from jail, police will be keeping an eye on him.
Ruiz said he was also concerned about cars speeding up 78th Street, noting that many children play on the street.
Frank Dardani, president of the council, suggested to Ruiz that the installation of a speed bump may be the answer.
South Ozone Park resident Carmen Miranda complained that her next door neighbor has rented her driveway, which is located in the vicinity of 122nd Street and 111th Avenue, to another neighbor who parks his racing car in the driveway.
Miranda said the car has been giving off fumes that waft into her home.
“Those fumes are coming into my house and making me sick,” she said.
Dardani told Miranda that when a resident calls the city’s 311 system for such quality of life complaints, they are not a priority.
“You know how that makes me feel — I’m not a priority; it doesn’t matter what I feel, how I live,” Miranda said.
“Where’s my quality of life?” she asked.
Pascale told Miranda the police would cite the racing car owner for noise violations if officers find that he is violating the law.
Dardani said that the police department staffing is down six or seven thousand officers from prior years.
“When we had that six or seven thousand other police officers our communities weren't like this,” he said.
Complaints made at last July’s council meeting about unleashed pit bulls being walked by their owner on Rockaway Boulevard between 106th and 107th streets were brought up again.
Terrence, who asked that his last name not be published, said that he is the landlord of the house on 106th Street and Rockaway Boulevard, where the pit bulls and their owner resides.
He said that not only does the owner continue to walk his dogs unleashed, but he also lets the dogs run loose in the building’s hallways, scaring the other tenants and their children.
“It's becoming a problem,” Terrence said.
In other meeting news, Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) said the graffiti removal program is still in effect and urged residents to call his office to report any graffiti locations that they see in the community.
The next meeting of the 106th council will be held on Wednesday, May 9 at 8 p.m. at the precinct station house, at 103-53 101 St. in Ozone Park.