107th shifts focus to public safety 1

Officers from the 107th Precinct, including Commanding Officer Deputy Inspector Scott Henry, left, spent the weekend educating the public on safe practices and enforcing social distancing at area parks, such as Cunningham Park in Fresh Meadows.

With crime down in the 107th Precinct, the NYPD has been able to focus its attention on serving the public’s needs, such as patrolling open spaces to enforce social distancing and responding to 311 calls.

“I was pleasantly surprised with the [public’s] cooperation,” said Deputy Inspector Scott Henry, commanding officer of the precinct, who spent the weekend patrolling area parks. “We had a lot of people in Cunningham [Park], but everyone was obeying social distancing. We closed the barbecue area and informed people on why they couldn’t use it and they just turned around and left early.”

Henry said he had between 16 and 20 officers stationed throughout the Fresh Meadows park educating the public on safe practices for outdoor activity during a pandemic and were met with full cooperation. Henry joked that officers who recently graduated from the academy were surprised at the level of adherence to distancing guidelines. “It’s a great community,” said Henry.

With crime down 19.5 percent in the last 28-day period compared to the same time last year, the precinct has improved its response time to 311 calls, which have surged during the pandemic.

“All week long we had 311 calls about people not wearing masks, saying supermarkets weren’t limiting the amount of people coming in at a time or employees not wearing masks,” said Henry. “We go out, we check it, but we haven’t really issued any summons. Oftentimes they forget to wear them and we instruct them that they have to, they do and that’s it.”

Henry said that the average time it takes his officers to receive, respond to and complete a 311 call during the pandemic is 30 to 45 minutes.

The 107th Precinct has seen a drop in all seven index crimes except for grand larceny of an automobile, which has been plaguing the precinct, and city, for months.

“It’s pretty much all over the command — scattered,” Henry said on the 44.4 percent increase. “Half of the cars stolen are left with the keys inside. When you look at the higher-end cars, Range Rovers, Volvos and stuff like that, a lot of people just leave the keys in the car. The mirrors don’t fold in when the key or fob is left inside, so [thieves] look out for that.”

Recently, a Range Rover was stolen overnight, but it was equipped with a tracking device. The owner reported the stolen car to Henry, noting that it was in Brooklyn, and the commander traveled to the neighboring borough himself to recover it.

“It’s a problem citywide,” he said, noting that all precincts throughout the five boroughs reported a 56 percent increase in the crime during the same period. He added that the problem increases once owners leave valuables, such as credit cards, inside.

In other good news, Henry said his officers were coming back to work after many of them fell sick from COVID-19 and other afflictions.

“Our sick numbers are down. [Our] numbers of cops will be back to normal by the end of this week. Our patrol string should be back to normal,” said Henry. “We’re starting to recover.”

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