By Alexander Dworkowitz
The addition of more police officers in downtown Flushing has resulted in a reduction in crime in Whitestone as well, the captain of the 109th Precinct said Tuesday.
Capt. Michael Lau told a crowd of about 100 at the Greater Whitestone Taxpayer Civic Association meeting that Operation Impact, the police program targeting high crime areas, had cut into crime rates throughout the precinct.
At the beginning of the year, the 109th Precinct received 45 additional officers to target downtown Flushing. Recently 19 of those rookies were transferred to other precincts, the captain said.
Through the first three months of the year, crime dropped nearly 19 percent in the 109th Precinct, which covers Flushing, Whitestone, College Point and Bay Terrace. Last year the 109th had more burglaries than any other precinct in the city. But that type of crime has been reduced by nearly 40 percent so far this year.
The influx of rookies into downtown Flushing cut crime in the region nearly in half, Lau said. In 2002, 55 percent of the crime in the precinct occurred in downtown Flushing, which comprises a small area of the 109th, Lau said.
One woman in the audience said she was worried that police were ignoring Whitestone.
“We don’t want you to forget about Whitestone,” she said. “Even though it’s a quiet area, there have many incidents of house robberies.”
Lau, however, said Operation Impact was helping to reduce crime in Whitestone as well.
Before Operation Impact, cars patrolling Whitestone, Bay Terrace and College Point would constantly have to make runs to downtown Flushing, Lau said.
But with the new officers, the patrols have been able to operate unaffected.
“[Operation Impact] freed up a lot of cars assigned to other neighborhoods,” Lau said.
Before Lau spoke, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown addressed the meeting, speaking about the high reduction in crime in the borough over the last 10 years, although he said he was worried that budget cuts to his office would cut down on long-term investigations, leading to an increase in crime.
“We’re becoming dangerously close to the point that all of the gains we have made over the last 10 years or so are in jeopardy,” he warned.
Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300 Ext. 141.