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Cops Nab 15 for Underage Sales

Illegally Sold Booze To Minors In Sting

Fifteen businesses flunked a test recently held by the 104th Precinct as part of its crackdown on the illegal sale of alcohol to minors, the force’s commanding officer told members of the press during a briefing at the Ridgewood stationhouse last Thursday, Jan. 9.

Capt. Christopher Manson stated all but one of the 16 grocery stores and bars investigated during the operation on Jan. 3 were found to have improperly sold alcoholic beverages to individuals under the age of 21.

Two of those businesses got what Manson called “three strikes,” meaning they were cited twice previously for illegal sales to minors. The precinct is now seeking to shut them down-and have their liquor licenses suspended or revoked by the State Liquor Authority-through the NYPD’s Nuisance Abatement program.

Though the program is a civil process, “for some business owners, it could mean the end of their business,” Det. Thomas Bell of the 104th Precinct Community Affairs Unit added.

Since further investigation is taking place, Manson did not disclose the identities of the 15 businesses found in violation. Each of the locations investigated in the operation were chosen through information obtained by police and from complaints lodged by residents.

In each operation, a cooperating minor was sent in by officers to each store and attempted to purchase alcohol, with undercover officers observing the attempted transactions.

The offending businesses who were first-time offenders received violations.

“I’d rather that they never fail,” Manson said of the offenders. “It’s not hard to be a good neighbor” and comply with the law.

The commanding officer indicated the precinct-under the supervision of Lt. George Hellmer, special operations coordinator- would conduct future underage alcohol sale stings throughout 2014.

Noting that four businesses were closed in 2013 for illegally selling alcohol to minors, Manson predicted “we’ll probably close twice as many this year.”

Traffic issues will also be a big focus for the 104th Precinct in 2014, the captain said. Earlier this month, he noted, the command-under the direction of Capt. John Travaglia, executive officer-issued 50 summonses to the owners of commercial vehicles parked illegally overnight on residential streets.

Manson said the precinct would target violations which tend to cause accidents on the roads resulting in serious injury or death to drivers, passengers and/or pedestrians. Those violations include speeding, ignoring red lights, failure to yield to pedestrians and driving while intoxicated.

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Turning to crime statistics, Manson reported a “huge reduction” in major crime across the 104th Precinct in 2013. The command finished the year with a 4.3 percent decrease, powered by drops in robberies (8.2 percent), felony assaults (5.9 percent), burglaries (12.8 percent) and grand larcenies (13.8 percent).

“It was a victorious year for the 104th Precinct,” the commanding officer said.

Officers are also responding to calls faster in 2014, as the average response time was 6.1 minutes last week, down from 8.5 minutes reported at the same time last year. Over the last four weeks, Manson added, the precinct’s average response time has dropped by 12 percent.

Five individuals busted on Jan. 3 for allegedly breaking into a deli in Kew Gardens Hills may be linked to a number of similar burglaries which occurred recently in the 104th Precinct, according to Manson. The NYPD Major Case Squad is continuing its investigation, and additional charges against the suspects are pending.

The new year is looking promising for a Ridgewood family which 104th Precinct officers assisted during the holiday season. As previously reported, 104th Precinct officers donated cash, food, toys and furniture to the family of a domestic violence victim found to be living in squalid conditions last month.

“They’re doing very well,” Manson said of the family. “The terrible problems they had have been alleviated” largely through the efforts of his officers.

Working with the neighboring 75th Precinct, the 104th Precinct will also boost its presence in Highland Park during the spring and summer months. According to Manson, officers will be sent to the park every night at 8:30 p.m. advising anyone still in the park to leave.

On holidays when the park is most active-Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Cinco de Mayo and Puerto Rican Day-the 104th Precinct will place its mobile command unit near the Highland Park parking lot on Vermont Place, the captain added.

Auxiliary officers will be assigned to other parks around the 104th Precinct as part of safety plans for the spring and summer, Manson stated.

During the briefing, Manson introduced reporters to P.O. Ronald York, who is the 104th Precinct’s new graffiti coordinator. Among York’s responsibilities are investigating incidents of graffiti vandalism in the precinct, catching suspected vandals and organizing cleanups.

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