By Rich Bockmann
Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced last week that 70 newly minted police officers have been assigned to the Impact Zone straddling the 103rd and 113th precincts, where murders have risen sharply in the past year.
Bloomberg spoke at National Night Out — an annual event designed to encourage communities and police to work together in order to combat crime — at Baisley Pond Park in the 113th Precinct, where murders climbed 75 percent from eight to 14 since last year’s event, according to the NYPD’s CompStat numbers.
The precinct covers Baisley Park, St. Albans and parts of South Jamaica and Springfield Gardens. The 103rd Precinct, which covers Jamaica, Hollis and part of South Jamaica, saw murders rise 80 percent from five to nine.
Bloomberg said the NYPD has cut crime citywide by 32 percent since 2001, and while the NYPD’s crime statistics show that overall crime fell in both precincts between 2001 and 2011, murders were up 70 percent in the 113th and 10 percent in the 103rd during that time period. The mayor also said the 113th Precinct seized more than 130 guns last year, the most in 15 years.
“Now we’re going to continue driving crime down and that’s why we just assigned 70 new police officers who graduated from the police academy in June to the Impact Zone located here and in the 103rd Precinct,” he said at the Aug. 7 event.
An Impact Zone is an area of concentrated crime that the NYPD floods with new police officers.
The mayor stands staunchly behind the department’s controversial stop-and-frisk program and, in response to highly publicized acts of gun violence in the city and across the nation in the past several weeks, he has repeatedly called on the presidential candidates to stand up to the National Rifle Association and call for stricter gun laws.
“And we’re not going to let anyone do anything that will keep our police from doing their vital job fairly and well,” he added.
Driving home the message of National Night Out, Bloomberg said southeast Queens residents could help their police by telling them about vacant, foreclosed houses that are being used by criminals.
“If we aren’t safe in our streets, all the other freedoms we have aren’t worth anything,” he said. “And so it all starts with this, a bunch of young men and women working for the Police Department, working with the community, keeping us safe.”
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the city was on track for a record-low year in murders, adding those numbers, however, were of no particular comfort to those who were affected by gun violence.
“These tragedies just remind us that we have a lot more work to do, certainly in protecting those who are most vulnerable among us,” he said. “There’s still too many guns, still too many people willing to use those guns, so we need you in partnership with the department.”
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.