Crime rates in Queens may be bucking citywide trends, but we’re seeing some horrific things here. Last Friday Gudelia Vallinas, a mother of two was shot dead on the street on the Astoria-Woodside border, the third killing of a mom in western Queens in six months. Another young mother’s body was found in the trunk of a car in Ozone Park. There have been a series of sex assaults in Forest Park, and a number of fatal hit-and-runs across Queens.
We’re lucky things aren’t worse. Through March 7, the most recent date for which figures are available, the number of murders here has fallen to seven from 10 at this point last year. Shootings have dipped from 29 to 26. Rapes have similarly fallen from 62 to 55. Citywide, rape is down, murder is down but barely, but shootings are up 42 percent. It’s a good thing these guys can’t aim.
But are our leaders planning to strengthen the police force in response? Hardly. They’re focused on “reforming” the NYPD with plans to do things like prevent shootings by deploying “violence interrupters” from nonprofit groups and politicizing the appointment of police commanders by giving precinct community councils a formal say in their selection. We hope these moves will have a positive effect, but we’re skeptical. We’d much prefer bringing back the anti-crime units, our frontline gun-control workers, to find and seize weapons before they’re used to kill moms like Gudelia Vallinas.
Gov. Cuomo is requiring police reforms get signed into law by April 1, threatening to cut state funding if they’re not. Too bad there’s no deadline to see if whatever gets approved in the end works.