Bring Back The Cop On The Beat – QNS.com

Bring Back The Cop On The Beat

With complaints about the deterioration of New York Citys quality of life, the NYPD desperately needs a return to community policing. Should that return occur, it will be most welcomed in the neighborhoods of the 104th Precinct Middle Village, Maspeth, Ridgewood and Glendale.
As many understand, the unique topography of the neighborhoods comprising the 104th Precinct presents numerous and daunting challenges to officers patrolling the 7.4-square-mile area. With cemeteries, highways, railroads and parks slicing through its boundaries, emergency vehicles must run a gauntlet of obstacles to respond to a crisis. Combine these obstacles with narrow and congested access routes and it is no wonder the precinct has historically been one of the slowest in the city to respond to emergencies.
Making matters much worse is the imbalance of crime within the precinct. Historically the vast majority of serious crime is located in and around the Ridgewood-Bushwick border. As a result, when there is an emergency in Maspeth, Middle Village and Glendale, chances are the responding patrol car has to travel from the far reaches of the precinct and maneuver through limited and congested main arteries.
With the reduced police manpower and precinct officers being reassigned to cover others areas since September 11, 2001, backlog incidents have soared in the precinct. A precinct is placed in backlog status when it is holding five jobs with no units available or any job for over 30 minutes. In 2001 the 104th was placed in backlog 70 times. In 2002, however, the precinct was placed in backlog a record 247 times. The 104th Precinct led the entire borough in backlog. To put these numbers in perspective our neighboring precinct, the 112th, had 34 backlogs in 2002, significantly less.
One of the most popular solutions being mentioned by some is constructing a satellite precinct in the northern part of the precinct. That seems like a
good idea. In reality, however, a satellite precinct will do little to solve the response time and backlog problem since satellite officers will still respond to emergencies near the Brooklyn border, back to square one.
The real solution is realignment of the precinct or creation of a new precinct for Middle Village and Maspeth. But that seems next to impossible and certainly will not happen in the near future. The next alternative is more cops for the precinct. That too has been nearly impossible to achieve given the current budget problems in the City of New York.
In lieu of more cops and realignment, community policing is the answer. There is no single definition of community policing. However, the most widely accepted one identifies three critical elements: creation of and reliance on effective partnerships with the community as well as with other public and private sector resources; application of problem-solving strategies or tactics; and need for comprehensive transformation of police organization culture and structure to support this philosophical shift.
Community policing is not a program, but a philosophy, not a strategy but an approach to the entire business of public safety. In general, community policing relies on organizational decentralization and a reorientation of patrol in order to facilitate two-way communication between police and the public. It assumes a commitment to broadly focused, problem-oriented policing and requires that police be responsive to citizen demands when they decide what local problems are and set their priorities. Community policing brings to the table a structure and an outlook that values the solving of problems, encourages community engagement by officers, and focuses energy on preventive measures as well as reaction.
In the early 1990s the NYPD instituted a form of community policing but it lacked a true commitment from the police brass. Community police officers were the first to be given duty outside the precinct and were rarely in their communities. Commissioners Howard Safir and Ray Kelly made further cutbacks in the program and presently there are only a few community police officers in the precincts. Of the ones who the NYPD labels as "community police officers," very few really know their communities.
A return to true community policing is vital, especially in the 104th Precinct. CPU officers can ticket illegally parked vehicles that clog our main thoroughfares and slow emergency response. CPU officers have a presence that deters crime and violations of quality of life so prevalent in Middle Village, Maspeth, Ridgewood and Glendale. And if they are given scooters, CPU officers can answer emergency calls when they are nearby and enforce traffic laws.
For years, every civic leader in the 104th Precinct has been speaking out for a real community patrol unit for the 104th. Double beats in busy and problematic areas is an essential part of a successful community patrol unit.
We hope that Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly will understand how important community policing is to New York City neighborhoods and bring back the "Cop on the Beat."
Robert Holden is president of the Juniper Park Civic Association.

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