112th Pct. Gets Look At Program
Residents attending the112th Precinct’s Community Council meeting at the command’s Forest Hills stationhouse last Monday, May 14 got a lesson in how to become the eyes and ears of the area.
The NYPD’s Block Watcher program is “in the starting stages right now,” according to Inspector Amin Kosseim of the NYPD’s Community Affairs Unit.
“We want you to be the eyes and ears for us,” he explained. “We’re going to train you on what to look for.”
Sgt. Adeel Rana then began his presentation of the program, calling it “an integral part of the [NYPD’s] crime reduction strategy.”
“What is a Block Watcher? A Block Watcher is a concerned citizen, someone within the community who volunteers to be the additional eyes and ears of the department,” he explained.
The PowerPoint slideshow detailed what information to obtain in case of a crime, how to identify individuals at the scene, and when to call 311 or 911 depending on the situation.
“Every second counts,” said Rana, adding that each Block Watcher will get a dedicated identification number that will alert 311 and 911 operators that the tip originated from someone participating in the program.
Block Watchers should call 911 in case of an emergency situation, and 311 for quality-of-life issues, giving their ID number in each case. Block Watchers can use their ID number regardless of which precinct the crime is taking place.
“In certain situations, call the precinct direct and follow up with 311,” Rana suggested. He later noted that Block Watchers can follow up on 911 calls as well but that the program is designed to maintain a participant’s anonymity in criminal cases.
Rana them went over the NYPD’s chain of command, from the commanding officer, to his executive officers, to the precinct’s different divisions (Integrity Control, Platoon, Special Operations and the Detective Squad).
The platoon commander is responsible for a precinct’s patrols, while the special operations coordinator (usually a lieutenant) organizes various specialty units.
Rana then went over how best to identify a person of interest.
He suggested that Block Watchers “start from the bottom, work your way up” when chronicling articles of clothing, and to also identify sex, race, age, height and weight;, hair style, length and color; any weaponry; and the direction of flight.
“It’s important to orient yourself,” to help identify direction, Rana noted, adding that if a resident is disoriented,
If the perpetrator has a vehicle, Rana advised Block Watchers to get a look at the vehicle’s make, model and year; its license plate; whether the car is damaged; and the direction in which it was traveling.
Rana also reminded residents to give the borough when giving a location or address, as some addresses repeat in different boroughs (for instance, Seventh Avenue and 124th Street is in College Point in Queens as well as in Harlem in Manhattan).
“All these things are very important,” Rana urged. “When they go to trial, or to catch a person, you have to have this information … it could make the difference between a man walking away or doing some time.”
While 311 and 911 can now accept photos from cellphones, Rana advised residents to be careful.
“The pictures do help, especially in transit on a train,” noted Rana, but P.O. Gigi Redzematovic of the 112th Precinct’s Community Affairs Unit warned that a Block Watcher following a criminal around with a phone could be putting themselves in harm’s way.
“You have to use your head,” she warned. “You come first.”
Registered Block Watchers will be able to attend other lectures throughout the year from NYPD officers.
Deputy Inspector Christopher Tamola, the commander of the 112th Precinct, announced that the command is receiving an influx of 10 new officers.
The 112th Precinct’s next meeting will take place at its usual time-on June 20, the third Wednesday of the month-at 7:30 p.m. at the 112th Precinct stationhouse, located at 68- 40 Austin St, according to Council President Heidi Harrison Chain.
Claudia Filomena of the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit is scheduled to be the precinct’s guest speaker.