By Albert Silvestri
The Jamaica BID, the largest such organization in Queens, presented Inspector Robert Napolitano, commanding officer of the 103rd Precinct, with a certificate of appreciation, thanking the precinct for the improved atmosphere in the shopping district.”The inspector and the 103rd have been wonderful,” said Claude Brodwell, president of the Jamaica BID. “Crime is way down. It's never going to go all the way down, but people feel safe here.”The 103rd Precinct, which serves more than 100,000 residents of the downtown Jamaica Business District, Hollis Park Gardens, Hollis, Lakewood and Jamaica, has seen a 70 percent decrease in crime since 1993, according to data compiled by the New York City Police Department.”I'm honored that the Jamaica BID has recognized the work of the 103rd,” said Napolitano, a 24-year veteran of the NYPD. “It's good to see that the police are appreciated.”Compared to 2004 at this time, rape has decreased in the area by 16.6 percent, murder by 27.2 percent and grand larceny by 9.4 percent, according to NYPD crime statistics. But robbery was up 10.9 percent, felony assault ahead 3 percent and burglary up 18.8 percent, the data showed. Stretching from Sutphin Boulevard to 169th Street, Jamaica Avenue's shopping district has previously had a problem with three-card monte operations (an illegal card game where the dealer scams an unsuspecting victim with the help of accomplices pretending to be successful at the game). But according to Brodwell, the operations have been eliminated, thanks to the 103rd.”All we had to do was call the 103rd once,” Brodwell said. “They would take care of it right away, and now we don't have the problem.”The Jamaica shopping district has continued to be designated as an “Operation Impact” area, which has placed a higher number of police officers in visible citywide locations, such as Jamaica Avenue. According to the NYPD, “Operation Impact” led to a 26 percent drop in crime last year in areas designated as impact zones.Napolitano, commanding officer of the 103rd for the past 2 1/2 years, points to an influx of newly assigned rookies at the precinct and the higher police visibility they bring to the street as key parts of the crime reduction.”We're like the military,” Napolitano said. “We bring our people up from where they are, starting out as beat cops. You have to love what you do to be an officer in the NYPD.”State Assemblyman William Scarborough (D- St. Albans) had been scheduled to deliver the keynote address for the function but was unable to attend, said his representative Manuel Caughman.On Scarborough's behalf, Caughman praised the “Herculean” job that the Jamaica BID and the 103rd Precinct have done in improving the area.Reach reporter Albert Silvestri by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 139.