Cops Asking How They Did

Pct. Looks To Evaluate 311 Responses

The 110th Precinct is conducting follow-up interviews to gauge how well it is serving residents who call in 311 complaints, the precinct’s commanding officer told the 110th Precinct Community Council during its meeting on Monday, Apr. 15, at Flanders Field VFW Post 150 in Corona.

P.O. Mike Johnston was named the 110th Precinct Community Council’s Cop of the Month for helping to connect a robbery suspect with a series of past crimes. Pictured (from left) are: Deputy Inspector Ronald Leyson, commanding officer of the 110th Precinct; Johnston; 110th Precinct Community Council President Evelyn DeCoursey; Capt. Mike Telfer, commanding officer of NYPD Transit District 20; and Lt. John Ganley of Transit District 20. The Cop of the Month award is sponsored by the Times Newsweekly.

Deputy Inspector Ronald Leyson said the precinct is randomly selecting and calling complainants to gather feedback and help improve the way it responds to quality-of-life issues. He told the council the program was implemented about a week ago and that community affairs officers will soon be doing the same.

On every single tour, the precinct’s desk officer is making one call, amounting to three calls a day, he said.

“There’s not always going to be 100 percent satisfaction, but this will give me a better gauge,” Leyson said. “We want to keep this community relationship going,” he added.

One resident stated noise complaints and other 311 calls are often ineffective, because response times can be so long. By the time police arrive, the problem has temporarily ceased, she said.

Leyson said the long response times are due to how the police prioritize calls for service—311 complaints are not as pressing as critical emergencies called in to 911, and the NYPD doesn’t have the resources to respond to all calls immediately.

Community Board 4 District Manager Christian Cassagnol told the council that residents experiencing long waits can contact the community board. He said the board will send letters to the offending residences warning that the problem has been brought to its attention and that, if it persists, the board will seek further action.

“So far, it’s worked,” Cassagnol said.

Scam Preys on Chinese-Americans

Individuals should be wary of con artists preying on elderly Chinese- Americans, Leyson said.

The scammers—usually young, Chinese women—approach elderly Chinese women and tell them they see evil spirits hovering over them. The young women instruct the older ladies to gather all their money and valuables in a bag and bring it to them for cleansing, Leyson said.

Through slight-of-hand, the con artists replace the valuables with newspaper, instructing the victims to leave the bags sealed for two weeks, lest terrible luck befall them and their loved ones.

Victims have lost tens of thousands of dollars a piece due to this scam, he stated.

Leyson noted that more than $1 million dollars have been stolen this way in New York City alone. The scam has taken root in Chicago and San Francisco, and it can be traced back to mainland China, he added.

“The younger generation needs to educate their parents and their elders in their culture about these scams,” he said.

One suspect has been caught in Hong Kong and is supposed to be extradited to the US for sentencing, Leyson said. He noted there are three other young women and a man wanted in connection with this specific scam.

Cop of the Month

Leyson named P.O. Mike Johnston Cop of the Month for nabbing a robber and helping to pin him for a separate crime that happened earlier in the day.

On Mar. 29, Johnston and his partner received a call regarding a woman who was robbed on 75th Street and Broadway.

While responding to the incident, they noticed a commotion along 75th Street—a group of people had subdued an individual and was holding him on the sidewalk, Leyson said.

The group told the officers they had detained a man who stole someone’s wallet, and the officers held the man while the complainant could be found to finger the perp, he said.

It was found he was the suspect in the robbery the officers were initially responding to.

He did not have the wallet on him, but one of the civilians who followed him saw him ditch the evidence as he was running, according to Leyson .

“Here we have the community and the police working together in order to help bring this apprehension to a closure,” he said.

While the officers made the arrest, Johnston realized the perp matched the description of a suspect in a purse-snatching that happened earlier in the day, Leyson told the council.

Johnston notified the precinct’s detective squad that the suspect may also have been responsible for the robbery earlier in the day, Leyson said.

As a result, the detective squad was able to locate the purse-snatching victim and get a positive ID on the suspect for that crime as well, according to Leyson.

He noted the suspect had two felony warrants and a misdemeanor warrant, as well as a long rap sheet.

During the course of the investigation, the suspect made implicating statements regarding both robberies and showed detectives where he had hidden the purse he allegedly stole earlier in the day, Leyson noted.

He added the two victims were an elderly woman and a woman who was six months pregnant.

“So this guy is out there preying on what he considers to be weak victims … This is a bad guy that was doing bad things to good people, and we have a great police officer who put an end to that,” Leyson said.

Johnston received a plaque donated by the Times Newsweekly.

Problem club still closed

Leyson also updated the crowd on Exotics Lounge and other night clubs along a stretch of Queens Boulevard in Elmhurst that have fueled complaints from residents.

He said Exotics’ Mar. 22 shuttering, which came after a bust for underage drinking, has hit the club’s coffers hard.

“We had them closed for Easter Weekend,” Leyson said. “That’s a big weekend.”

He noted club owners told him that was the weekend they had to pay their mortgage.

“We don’t want to close anyone down,” he added. “We want them to be safe.”

The precinct has closed the club in the past, but after owners got an injunction, they were able to reopen after a few days.

This time, the owners have to go before the State Liquor Authority to answer for a list of incidents, Leyson said. That board doesn’t meet until May.

Residents said the area is still noisy and raucous, citing Club Glazz and 71Ocho as repeat problems.

Leyson told attendees that the precinct has begun the nuisance abatement process for Glazz. He added the club has come under new ownership and is working with the precinct to clean up its act. It hired a more professional security team, he said.

71Ocho has invested in soundproofing to keep loud music from spilling out into the neighborhood.

Leyson said it’s good the clubs cooperate with police, but they have to demonstrate a real change in how they operate.

“We’re trying to work with them, because they are part of the community,” Leyson said.

Crime stats

Leyson told the council that felony assaults and grand larcenies are still on the rise.

“We’ve had a bad little run,” he said.

Felony assaults are up 50 percent for the last 28 days and 20 percent for the year, he said. He noted that domestic violence comprised much of the increase, stating that they were not random acts of violence.

He also said many of the domestic violence incidents were the first reported offenses.

He also attributed the rise to alcohol fueled arguments, and asked citizens to report bars that are over-serving and bodegas that allow people to drink inside, which is illegal.

He said the increase in grand larcenies comes from pick-pocketing. Thieves are snatching cell phones and rooting through pocketbooks and bags when victims aren’t looking.

Robberies, however, are down 12 percent for the period and 18 percent for the year.

“The taking of property by force is still showing a decrease,” he said.

Leyson noted snatching things off a person, including phones and jewelry, is not considered using an “act of force” and therefor not a robbery.

Leyson also told the council the precinct has been aggressively towing illegally parked cars and trucks. He stated his department has towed more than 100 vehicles so far this year.

The 110th Precinct Community Council meets on the third Monday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Flander’s Field VFW Post # 150, 51-11 108th Street in Corona. The next meeting is scheduled for May 20.