By Phil Corso
Clifton Stanley Diaz said he would not blame Mayor Michael Bloomberg for working to remove firearms from the streets of the city, even if it means continuing to enforce the controversial stop-and-frisk practices.
But what he did take issue with, the Rochdale Village Civic Association president said, was the lack of communication.
That is part of why Clifton invited 113th Precinct Deputy Inspector Milt Marmara to the group’s meeting over the weekend to engage residents in conversations surrounding illegal guns, drugs and the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policies.
“Our commander [Marmara] has been out there doing an outstanding job enforcing the law,” Diaz said. “But we have to communicate more to make this work.”
One of the major concerns, Rochdale Village residents said, was whether or not police were more likely to stop different types of individuals. Marmara reassured the civic group that officers were not interested in demographics and they simply enforced the law.
“We are not looking for any types of profiles. We do not profile,” Marmara said.
Diaz said he supported any elected official’s efforts to reduce violence and remove weapons from the streets, though he did admit the current policies needed some refining.
“Commissioner Ray Kelly said he will refine stop-and-frisk. He said he would do something about it,” Diaz said. “And I believe him. I believe he will address that matter.”
Marmara said the NYPD has lost thousands of officers over the last 10 years, so stop-and-frisk efforts were a way the force could work to limit crime in the city. He said the officers were working to maintain communication between the NYPD and its elected officials for consistency.
“I always let my officers know we are in it together,” Marmara said. “It is not an us vs. them mentality.”
City Councilman James Sanders (D-Laurelton) visited the civic meeting to urge Rochdale Village residents to remain involved for the betterment of their community.
“There is a lot of work up here to be done,” Sanders said. “Please do not let this area go. If you let it slip, it will be very difficult to get it back.”
Diaz also weighed in during a heated discussion over illegal guns on the streets of southeast Queens, calling the problem widespread.
“There are some powerful weapons coming from out of state that we should be concerned about,” Diaz said. “I have not seen this amount of gun violence in the last five or six years and it is not just the police being affected, it is all of us.”
Sanders took the opportunity to promote gun buy-back events, citing a successful program from a few years ago that snagged 919 firearms in a matter of hours, he said.
“That is effective as you can get,” Sanders said. “We have to have it. It may not be the only tool in dealing with gun violence, but you should never tie your arm behind your back.”
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4573.