By Charles Hack
With crime in the 66th Precinct down for another year, a new crop of police officers is set to help keep the bad guys in check. Fifteen new police officers have been assigned to the precinct, Commanding Officer Captain Peter A. DeBlasio announced at the 66th Precinct Community Council meeting on Jan. 19 at Community Board 12, at 5910 13th Ave. “I will be able to use the police officers as my mini-task force,” DeBlasio said. “We expect good things to come from them.” The challenge for the rookies will be to help station commanders keep a 12-year crime plunge on a continued downward trend. The number of reported crimes has fallen by 1.5 percent over the last 12 months, according to DeBlasio, leaving 20 fewer crimes than the pervious year. The crime rate is just a third of what it was 12 years ago, DeBlasio said. In 1993, there were 5,264 reported crimes in the precinct. By 1995 that had fallen to 3,443. Today there were just 1,558 reported incidents in 2005. One category of crime — grand larceny auto — has been bucking the downward trend. DeBlasio noted that until around 20 months ago car theft had been falling. But then it began to spike. Now it is set to fall again, with the recent arrest of a kingpin in a car break-in ring. The perpetrator was caught red-handed in January, with everything the police could wish for as evidence, the stolen car, a master key and witnesses. The suspect was being charged with grand larceny auto, he said. “They were killing us but we made a good collar,” DeBlasio said. Another arrest that will help bring down the crime rate was that of a persistent graffiti artist who was caught in action near on Avenue C. This arrest will send a message to other graffiti artists, according to DeBlasio. “They know we are out there,” DeBlasio said. And new recruits will provide the kind of flexibility of a knight on a chess board, easy to deploy wherever they are needed. “This is what they do best,” said DeBlasio. “If we have a spike in crime, we move them there and they address the issue.” Community council members identified a number of trouble spots where double parking has been a problem, causing congestion and dangerous driving conditions. These include Palm Gardens Nursing Home at Avenue C and East 7th Street, where trucks double park while dropping of their supplies; near P.S. 160, William T. Sampson School at 5105 Fort Hamilton Parkway and 51st Street, while parents pick up and drop off their kids; and 13th Avenue, near 42nd Street. “Thirteenth Avenue is a disgrace,” said one resident. “Why can’t they give tickets out for double parking like they do on my block?” DeBlasio said that there was a police officer assigned to that area, but pledged to investigate the problem further. With Brooklyn having a higher number of domestic violence cases than the other five boroughs, assistant district attorney Aaron Nottage, told the community council about programs available through the Kings County District Attorney’s Office. The Family Justice Center opened five months ago at 350 Jay Street on the 15th Floor. Although the center is in the district attorney’s office, domestic violence victims do not have to file a complaint before using the center. Nor do they have to be married, because victims who are intimate partners can make use of the services. And there are 15 agencies with offices at the center ready to provide services to those who are suffering from domestic violence. These include the police, lawyers, counselors, elder abuse services, prosecutors, children’s services, and other support agencies. There are even probation officers to report domestic violence offenders who are violating their parole. Translation services are available for 100 languages, and the Eden project provides special translation services for those who speak only Yiddish, Russian or Hebrew. Over and above their work combating domestic violence, DeBlasio commended the DA’s office for being cooperative when prosecuting hard-core criminals. “They help us keep the bad people off the street,” DeBlasio said. “I think we have a great relationship.” Nottage pointed out that the justice system is not just peace officers, judges and prosecuting attorneys. The police and the courts need help from the public too — both from witnesses and jurors. “The police are doing a great job, but the job does not end with police,” said Nottage. The NYC Domestic Violence hotline is at (800) 621-4673. The King’s County District Violence Bureau is at (718) 250-3300.