About 80 Sunnyside residents filled the pews of All Saints Church Monday night to voice safety concerns and in particular, hear updates about the robber who forced community members to withdraw money from one ATM last week.
“We have some idea [who he is],” said 108th Precinct Captain Donald Powers, the commanding officer, who led the town hall meeting at the church along with Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside).
The precinct seems to have some leads on the man who stole money from three men on April 12, 18 and 23 at gunpoint near the intersection of 44th Street and 50th Avenue, but nothing concrete.
“It’s an unusual case — making people withdraw money,” Powers said. All money was taken from the same ATM inside a bodega in Sunnyside.
Community members asked what they could do to feel less vulnerable.
Powers said to try to avoid talking on the telephone while walking home at night.
“We're all busy, but try to be aware,” he said.
“Try being with a small child,” a woman in the audience said.
Community members can also call the precinct for a free safety assesment of their homes.
In response to those crimes and a stint of sexual assaults that occurred three weeks ago in Western Queens, Van Bramer sent a letter to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly saying “additional resources are now warranted to address the spike in burglaries and sexual assaults.”
The 108th Precinct has fewer officers than usual, said Powers. The precinct is waiting for eight officers. Van Bramer’s request is in addition to these eight officers already on their way.
Many residents said the Long Island City-based 108th Precinct does not have enough of presence in Sunnyside.
“If you want to hide from the cops go to 51st Street,” said one man attending the meeting.
Residents said they want more foot patrols, but Powers said there isn’t the man power. Foot patrols would be of particular help in the parks, which community members said are havens for criminal activity.
One attendee said high school students were smoking pot in Murray Playground. Other parkgoers were urinating in the park’s garden, she said, but the woman thought that would end once the bathrooms were installed.
Other residents mentioned Doughboy Park and Miller Park as places that needed some more police attention.
Cameras will be installed at Doughboy Park, said Van Bramer.