By Thomas Tracy
If your list of new year resolutions has “help out the community” on it, the NYPD has a job for you. You could be a member of your local precinct’s auxiliary force – neighborhood volunteers who act as extra eyes and ears for local cops. Members of the 60th Precinct Auxiliary Patrol were honored during a recent community council meeting, when members were encouraged to spread the word about the valuable program. While the complement of auxiliaries patrolling the streets of Coney Island and Brighton Beach is pretty large, more volunteers are always encouraged, officials said. The auxiliaries are also better protected than ever before, with each volunteer being outfitted with bullet proof vests by the year’s end. The added protection was ordered following the deaths of Greenwich Village auxiliaries Eugene Marshalik, who grew up in Brooklyn and attended Bay Academy, and Nicholas Pekearo, who were both shot by a crazed gunman earlier this year. Auxiliary Chief Tony Christo said that, despite the tragedy, the number of volunteers hasn’t diminished. Neither has there been a drop in the current ranks. After signing up and receiving some training, volunteers are armed with radios and sheriff badges and asked to patrol the area one night a week. While they are not required to “jump into the fray,” volunteers are asked to contact on duty officers if they see anything suspicious or illegal on their nightly patrols. Deputy Inspector Robert Johnsen, the commanding officer of the 60th Precinct, explained that his team of auxiliaries is one of the tools in his tool box he uses to reduce crime in the command. As of December 9, felony crime in the 60th Precinct is down by nearly ten percent. One of the largest reductions has been in robbery, which has seen a 17 percent fall since the beginning of the year. According to the hard numbers, there have been 281 robberies in Coney Island and Brighton Beach since the beginning of the year and December 9. During the same time last year, 339 robberies had been reported, officials said. The impressive fall in robberies is followed by a nearly 15 percent drop in car thefts (from 144 last year to 123 this year) and a nearly 14 percent fall in burglaries (from 213 to 184). The number of felony assaults is also down slightly – by half a percent, statistics show. The number of homicides and rape reports in the area are also down, officials said. Anyone wishing to learn more about the NYPD Auxiliary Patrol can contact either the 60th Precinct at (718) 946-3311 or Patrol Borough Brooklyn South at (718) 287-7893.