Queens South Task Force could move to Laurelton

By Tien-Shun Lee

A proposal to move the Queens South Task Force, a police patrol unit that serves southern Queens, from its Fresh Meadows headquarters in the 107th Precinct to a new building at the southern end of the 105th Precinct is opposed by U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) and members of Community Board 8.

“Overall, the formula for policing has been very good in the 107th. It’s a good structure, and that’s why so many folks in the community are scratching their heads about this move,” said Weiner. “As my grandmother used to say, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’”

The Queens South Task Force responds to calls in eight precincts encompassing the southern part of Queens: the 100th, 101st, 102nd, 103rd, 105th, 106th, 107th and 113th precincts.

Although task force officers may not be assigned to a large number of incidents in the 107th Precinct, their mere presence when going to and from their headquarters at 186-01 73rd Ave. makes Fresh Meadows a safer place, said Weiner.

“There’s a reason that crime is usually lower around precinct houses,” he said. “Having the task force turn out from that location is one of the reasons that crime has been lower in that area.”

The task force moved into its current 73rd Avenue headquarters in 1995 after the 107th Precinct relocated from the building to its present home several blocks away at 71-01 Parsons Blvd.

Police officials are considering moving the task force to a new building adjacent to the Long Island Rail Road Laurelton stop after the lease for the 73rd Avenue building ends in one year.

“We’re looking at a lot of things. There has been no decision on it yet,” said a representative of the New York Police Department.

Richard Hellenbrecht, the chairman of Community Board 13, which covers the 105th precinct, was not enthusiastic about the task force’s possible move.

“We were not terribly thrilled to hear that we were going to get a task force,” he said. “It’s better than nothing, but what we really want is a new, well-lit, well-identified precinct.”

Hellenbrecht said his community board had been pushing for more than 15 years for a new “116th” Precinct to be established at the southern end of the 105th Precinct, but the proposal had gone no where.

The 105th Precinct is the largest and longest precinct in Queens, Hellenbrecht pointed out, which contributed to the precinct’s having the worst response time in the borough about five years ago. It runs from Glen Oaks through Queens Village, Springfield Gardens, Laurelton and Rosedale.

With traffic, it can take up to half an hour to get from the northern end of the 105th Precinct, where its headquarters are located, to the southern end of the precinct, said Sheila Pecoraro, the president of the 105th Precinct Community Counsel.

“We suggested expanding the (new) task force building to include a precinct as well,” said Hellenbrecht. “That would make us very happy. The task force doesn’t quite meet our needs for an additional precinct.”

Diane Cohen, the district manager of Community Board 8, which covers the 107th Precinct, opposed the potential move, saying that any police presence in the area was a benefit to the community.

“They’re very helpful. For instance, they help with school kids at the high schools. Whenever the regular precinct needs extra coverage, they help,” she said. “We don’t want them to move. The 105th doesn’t want them, we do.”

Reach reporter Tien-Shun Lee by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com, or call 229-0300, Ext. 155.