Precincts tackle crime at monthly COMET meeting

Precincts tackle crime at monthly COMET meeting
Photo by Steve Mosco
By Steve Mosco

Residents welcomed two special guests at the Communities of Maspeth & Elmhurst Together’s last meeting before summer break Monday.

U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) and City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) met with COMET members to discuss neighborhood issues and hear crime statistics at the Bethzatha Church of God, at 85-20 57th Ave. in Elmhurst.

But first COMET honored retiring Detective Richard Garland, of the 110th Precinct, for his years of service to the Elmhurst community. Garland, who grew up in Elmhurst, said the honor to serve was all his.

“I lived here my entire life and I gave it my all,” he said. “I think I cared about this area more than others because I grew up here.”

Capt. John Travaglia, of the 104th Precinct, delivered the crime report, starting with a joint effort between the 104th and 108th precincts to deter drag racers from gathering at different spots in the area.

Travaglia said mobile police units were set up to monitor popular racing strips and the departments made a total of five arrests and gave out numerous summonses in the last few weeks.

“We set up these mobile units to let these people know that we are in the area and we are watching,” said Travaglia, adding racers set up meeting places on social networking sights like Facebook. “We’re sending the message that if you are going to race, don’t come here.”

The captain listed the crime stats for the past month, saying felony assaults and robberies were down but burglaries were up. He said grand larcenies were up this month and gave the residents tips to avoid becoming victims of any kind of theft.

“Don’t leave valuables in your car,” he said. “And lock up your windows. When the weather’s nice, people want to keep their windows open, but if you leave your house even for a short time, make sure you close and lock your windows.”

After crime stats were read, the elected officials greeted the crowd and listened to their civic concerns. Congressman Crowley spoke about issues concerning the entire borough, including news that the postal facility in College Point will remain open for the foreseeable future.

“The Postal Service was trying to bring costs down and there was a lot of gamesmanship going on, but that facility will stay open,” he said.

Councilwoman Crowley closed the meeting discussing an array of local issues, including an issue with cars and buses dropping off students at PS 58 on Grand Avenue. Residents said cars routinely double and triple park to drop off students, creating a traffic hazard that puts lives in danger. Crowley said she worked to find a solution, which might include limiting teacher parking.

“My priority is the public’s safety over where the teachers park their cars,” she said. “This is a danger to children and seniors in the area.”

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4546.