Entrepreneurs tired of loitering or disruptive behavior in their stores in Downtown Jamaica and surrounding the 103rd Precinct may breathe a sigh of relief.
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz has teamed up with the New York Police Department to address unsolicited activity inside and outside small businesses by creating a warning system to both give entrepreneurs respite from the nuisance and to give troublesome individuals a chance to curb their behavior without having to be arrested.
“This program, conceived in partnership with my office, the police and the business community, aims to ensure that families feel safe patronizing stores and restaurants,” Katz said in a June 8 statement. “Our store owners and shopkeepers have been greatly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. We want to do everything we can to help them make a strong comeback, and that means deterring disruptive, unwanted activity in and around their businesses.”
Individuals who are disorderly or conducting unwanted activity inside or outside shops will be given one warning by the police after a merchant calls the 103rd Precinct, according to the DA’s Office. Officers will serve a copy of trespass notice, which will let people know that their continued presence or return to a location can or will result in an arrest.
“By instituting a clear warning notice prior to any legal enforcement, this program is an equitable way of addressing the problem without necessarily putting more people in the system,” said Katz. “Patrons of Jamaica stores and restaurants should be able to go about their business without fear or harassment.”
NYPD Assistant Chief Ruben Beltran agrees.
“We are proud of this program that furthers the NYPD’s commitment to assist the communities and businesses we serve as they continue recovering from the strains of the Covid-19 outbreak,” said Beltran. “As summer arrives, it will take all of us together — the public, in tandem with our hardworking police officers — to ensure we continue meeting the challenges we collectively face.”
Dawn Kelly, the CEO of the Nourish Spot, a juice bar at 107-05 Guy R. Brewer Blvd. in Jamaica, is relieved that the NYPD and the DA’s Office were able to find a happy medium that both addresses the loitering outside of small businesses and doesn’t involve sending someone immediately to jail for minor infractions during a pandemic.
“I applaud the DA, Melinda Katz, and the NYPD for figuring out how best to support small businesses,” said Kelly. “I also understand that some of these people are down on their luck or suffering from an addiction.”
Kelly believes the new initiative will be a win-win for business owners who feel the loitering is a real problem and for those who don’t want to be entangled in the legal system.
“You don’t want potential customers to have any trepidation visiting your store when we are forced to do only curbside and pickup service because of the coronavirus,” said Kelly, who also mentors youths at her juice bar, located across the street from York College. “On Guy Brewer we have some sketchy folks. This will alleviate that and I’m sure if those people need services they will get it, but it also takes a community, not just elected officials, to sustain small businesses.”