Neighbor to Neighbor: SE Queens community imparts crime deterrents

By Barbara Morris

February, the shortest month, was packed with important issues — most good, some bad and one especially tragic to our area of Queens. My last two columns reflected how deeply I was touched by the senseless, tortured death of Huang Chen, 18, a Chinese food deliveryman from Woodside who was found dead in Brookville Park. I did not know him.

I also voiced concern about how our local communities would react to that same crime since that young man was a minority in the areas well known to me. Even before either of my columns ran, I began receiving phone calls with constructive comments and sympathetic sentiments for the Chen family and friends.

Joyce Lawrence, who is as vivacious and caring as she is active and efficient, called to tell me her 149th Avenue Block Association has already begun setting up a “Meet the Parents” forum, the date, time and location of which have yet to be decided. At that forum they hope to have the parents of those accused of the crime speak with other community parents so that together they can come up with insight as to why such outrages occur and possible ways to prevent similar crimes.

Our prayers and hopes are with their efforts and I am sure they would be grateful for any constructive input. I have not spoken with anyone about this crime who has not indicated a very deep and sincere compassion for Chen and his family.

It seems this tragedy has melted away some of the boundaries of the wider human family. Suggestions I have heard in dealing with the problem of youths’ turning to crime are to bring back the draft and have compulsory volunteer community service or paid after-school employment. Another idea I heard is to ensure that every household with at least one underage child has a stay-at-home adult who has the authority to deal with that person.

I’m sure many people would disagree with some of those suggestions, but sometimes serious circumstances require drastic measures. We must not delay diligently working to prevent senseless crimes, both for the sake of prospective victims as well as for those who could and should do something constructive with their lives instead of turning to crime and dealing with the punishment once they are caught.

I have suggested letting criminals decide their own fates if they hurt or kill someone. For example, before they commit the crime, let them know that they will have done to the victim exactly what will be done to them. Of course, that idea may seem out of character with our system of justice, but sometimes our system of justice does not always work in favor of the good guys and gals.

At least that novel approach would make the criminal responsible for his or her own fate and relieve a judge and jury of the mental anguish that goes with trying to be correct and fair in their assessment of the crime. Let us all hope and try to come up with a solution that works.

We are glad to pass on the good news about some crimes that were not only solved but the police officers involved rewarded. At the Feb. 25 105th Precinct Community Council meeting, Officer Joseph Marinello and Sgt. Brian Burke received the Cop-of-the-Month Award for apprehending a group of very active burglars in Queens Village.

They happened to be working in an area from which a citizen complaint alerted them to suspicious activity. As they reached the location, the suspects came out of the house, loot in hand, before their lookout, waiting in the escape car, could notify them of police presence, authorities said. All of the alleged perpetrators were arrested without incident.

The next awards were very special and extremely unusual. They were given to the team that recovered the 2-year-old who was abducted in a car that was left running while the little boy’s mother and her friend left the child alone to get take-out food. The 105th Precinct received information that the car jacker might have taken the car as a means to get to Hempstead, L.I.

The 105th Precinct called the Hempstead Police and asked if it would be possible to have one of our officers team up with someone from the other precinct to try to find the child, especially since it was cold enough for the child to freeze to death if not quickly recovered.

This very unusual request was graciously and quickly accepted. Lt. McGowan assigned Officers Cunninghan and Horowitz of the Hempstead Police Department to work with Officer James Phillips of NYPD’s 105th Precinct. They worked together relentlessly until the baby was recovered and returned to his mother in good health. Once again cooperation proved to be the key to success and reward for all the officers involved. We are a very grateful community.

More from Around New York