Crime tumbles for some

By Lesley Grimm

Just how low can you go? That is the question being asked in the 61st Precinct. Year after year, the amount of felony crime in the precinct has crashed. In fact, under the leadership of Captain Vincent Stella the precinct has enjoyed record-breaking reductions. As we head into 2008, cops are now wondering if they can keep it up. “We have our work cut out for us next year,” Captain Stella told a recent meeting of the 61st Precinct Community Council, held at the Bainbridge Club at 3093 Ocean Avenue. “Crime is getting lower and lower and lower, but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to do it, because I think we can,” Stella said, optimistic about the prospect of further knocking down crime in the coming year. “It’s like a baseball team that wins 100 games, but you want to win 101. You’ve got to find something different to do. You have to find something more innovative to do than the year before,” Stella added. The 61st Precinct is primarily a residential district that includes Sheepshead Bay, Gravesend, Manhattan Beach, Gerritsen Beach, Homecrest and parts of Midwood. Stella often boasts about the precinct’s low crime statistics at community meetings. He concedes his positive reports are repetitive. “I sound like a broken record,” he told the council. Back in February of 2007, Stella bragged that over the preceding 33 months the precinct had enjoyed the “biggest” crime reduction in the city. Captain Stella took over the reins of the 61st Precinct in May of 2004. He is quick to give credit to his officers for the standout crime numbers. According to the latest CompStat statistics (covering through until December 16, 2007) the 61st Precinct is down 12% in major crime compared to this time last year. The two year comparison suggests a 25% reduction in crime. The 2007 statistics show the precinct has seen reductions in everything from murder to burglaries. The only category of crime showing a year-to-date increase is felony assault which is up almost 20%, but grand larcenies are down 18% and car thefts are down 26%. It is this downward crime trend that Captain Stella hopes to continue. Stella said in 2008 his officers will continue to stay one step ahead of the crooks. “When the criminals get out of jail, we keep right on top of them, which I think is the biggest success we have,” Stella said. Stella said in 2008 he will seek out ways to find more intelligence. Key to this effort will be the strong partnership the 61st Precinct has forged with the community. Stella expected information and cooperation from residents to be valuable in 2008 “more than ever.” Stella cited a recent rash of purse snatchings that was brought to an end because of a tip from a resident. “From a little piece of information, we can turn it into a lot of information, and that’s how we’re successful.”

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