Pols, Fresh Meadows residents protest cop relocation

By Tien-Shun Lee

Councilmen Jim Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) and David Weprin (D-Hollis), U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) and members of the Fresh Meadows community rallied outside the Police Department's Queens South Task Force headquarters last week, protesting a proposal by the New York Police Department to move the facility to a new building in Rosedale.

“The police presence is vitally needed here,” Gennaro said. “By keeping the task force here, we have a police presence. Just its very presence adds more security to the neighborhood.”

The Queens South Task Force, which responds to calls in eight precincts encompassing the southern part of Queens, moved into its current headquarters at 186-01 73rd Ave. in the 107th Precinct in 1995. The proposed new headquarters is located next to the Long Island Rail Road Rosedale station on North Conduit Avenue in the 105th Precinct.

According to a letter written by Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly to Weiner in response to his opposition to the move, the NYPD believes the relocation of the task force will save the city money and provide a bigger facility for the task force, which has grown over the years.

“The facility presently occupied by the Queens South Task Force is owned by a private enterprise and is leased by the NYPD,” Kelly wrote. “In contrast, the site for the new task force facility, scheduled to be completed in late summer of 2003, is city-owned. … It represents significant long-term cost savings.”

The precincts that compromise the Queens South Task force are the 100th, the 101st, the 102nd, the 103rd, the 105th, the 106th, the 107th and the 113th.

In response to Kelly's comments, Weiner and Gennaro said monetary savings should not be made more important than safety.

“I think that the deployment of officers and the situating of their headquarters should be made based on law enforcement decisions, not short-term dollars-and-cents decisions,” Weiner said.

Gennaro pointed out that if the city wanted to save money, it could move another city agency that was not “location sensitive” into the Rosedale building.

“If they want to put some city agency in that other site, that's what they should do,” Gennaro said. “There are plenty of other city agencies that are begging for space.”

At the Feb. 10 rally, Weprin read aloud a letter that Kelly wrote to late Assemblyman Saul Weprin in 1993, promising to keep a police presence in the task force's current location.

“Please rest assured that I am committed to maintaining a police presence at the 186-01 73rd Ave. site,” Weprin read, quoting Kelly's letter of May 17, 1993.

While Kelly has argued that the Queens South Task Force will deliver the same service to the eight precincts it covers regardless of where its headquarters is located, elected leaders who serve the 107th Precinct say that one of the reasons crime is down in Fresh Meadows is because people see the patrol cars and uniformed officers coming and going from their headquarters.

“It's the presence of the Police Department, the coming and going of the vehicles and officers that have clearly had a deterrent effect on crime, and if you doubt it, all you have to do is look at the immediate blocks around the station house – they're virtually crime-free,” Weiner said.

Reach reporter Tien-Shun Lee by e-mail at [email protected], or call 718-229-0300, ext. 155.