New officers walk beat in Astoria’s 114th Pct.

By Matthew Monks

That goal should be much easier with the 27 new officers he was assigned Jan. 11, especially since his precinct lost one-third of its manpower in the past two years, he said. “My prayers were answered” when he got the new blood, Barrere said during the meeting Tuesday at Kaufman Astoria Studios. The officers, fresh from the academy, will be assigned to beats in trouble spots in Astoria and Long Island City, Barrere said. He will use them to create a mini “impact zone,” where uniformed officers walk the streets from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. during the week, and 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. on weekends. Barrere could not give the zone's specific location. “You're going to start seeing deployment into hardest hit areas,” he said. Community Council President Ann Bruno said the 114th Precinct had 320 officers in the late 1990s. Before receiving the new recruits, budget cuts had set the precinct's staffing levels back to 150 officers.”So this was a big jump for us,” she said. “It makes the people in this community feel a little safer when they hear that we now have 27 more cops.”But she commended Barrere, who was recently promoted to full inspector, with doing a stellar job while understaffed. Overall crime was down about 6 percent in 2004, with significant dips in robberies, burglaries, rape, auto theft and felony assaults. Burglaries were down 17 percent to 548 cases, Barrere said, 111 fewer than two years before. He hopes to use his additional resources to slash that number by another 100 in 2005, he said.But surges in identity theft last year forced a 8.5 percent spike in grand larceny, which is classified as thefts more than $1,000. He urged residents to safeguard their personal information by shredding their mail and getting three annual credit checks. All it takes to open a credit card is a social security number and someone's mothers' maiden name. Credit card fraud accounted for 30 percent of his precinct's 916 cases of grand larceny in 2004, he said.Reach reporter Matthew Monks by email at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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