By Adam Pincus
Assistant Chief James Tuller said that while murder, car theft and burglary were down dramatically, rapes rose by 20 percent in the eight northern precincts in Queens, rising to levels not seen since the early 1990s.He said police did not know why rapes rose, but he speculated that community outreach has led more victims to come forward, where before many were reluctant.”Although rapes were up, we are trying to figure out why,” he said. “I think it is communication” between the police and the community.Tuller presented the overview at the annual Patrol Borough Queens North year-end review covering the 104th, 108th, 109th, 110th, 112th, 114th and the 115th precincts, held at the Hall of Sciences in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.As New York experiences a historic decline in crime, which has fallen more than 70 percent over the past 13 years, police are challenged with continuing the reduction, even as the weekly crime statistics report called CompStat makes spikes in crime plainly visible to top brass.Tuller said although Queens North saw a drop from 17,933 in the seven major felonies in 2004 to 16,307 in 2005, it would respond to the increase in rapes with more public outreach and continued DNA and police work.There were 89 arrests among the 166 rapes reported in the borough, he said. Of the reported rapes, 84 percent were committed by a person known by the victims and most of those perpetrators were ultimately arrested. However, of the 26 reported sexual assaults that were committed by a stranger, police made only three arrests last year.Alongside violent crime, Tuller proposed a change in how police confront the quality-of-life issue of graffiti. He suggested precincts carry out fewer graffiti cleanups and rely on businesses or neighbors to repaint a site after it is retagged, which he argued would lead to more permanent results.”Maybe fewer locations,” should be cleaned up, he said, “but someone would be responsible for that location. I think if we attack with focus, our successes would be more permanent.”Sgt. Paul D'Addario, representing the Counter Terrorism Bureau in Queens provided an overview of the unit in the borough. He said police focused attention on several events that affected the borough last year such as the Billy Graham Crusade, the U.S. Open and the mayoral election.He said Critical Response Vehicles were occasionally deployed throughout the borough. “They are the vehicles that pay attention to when we get an increase of information from Intel,” adding that intelligence from residents was critical.Although he mentioned well-known events such as the July London bombings, Osama bin Laden's latest recorded message and the recent Hamas elections in Palestine, he said police were also concerned by a shadowy home-grown eco-terror group known as the Earth Liberation Army/Animal Liberation Army. “Intel says that is the biggest domestic threat at this time,” he told the group.Reach reporter Adam Pincus by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.