New 83rd Boss Outlines Mission
The 83rd Precinct’s new commanding officer said bicycle enforcement in Bushwick will become a priority during the 83rd Precinct Community Council meeting last Tuesday night, Sept. 16, at the Bushwick stationhouse.
Capt. Max Tolentino told attendees efforts would be stepped up in the wake of an Aug. 7 accident on Bleecker Street near the Knickerbocker Avenue M train stop. Reportedly, a female biker was riding with a friend when they were struck by a hit-and-run driver.
Richard Rivera was reportedly traveling in a 2013 Chevrolet on Wilson Avenue “well in excess of 30 mph,” when he hit the female biker, according to the victim’s attorney, Steve Vaccaro, who spoke to the Times Newsweekly on Friday, Sept. 19.
Reportedly, Rivera did not remain at the scene, and later parked the vehicle only a couple blocks away, which was later identified by witnesses as the same that struck the biker.
The case was assigned to the 83rd Precinct Detective Squad, but Tolentino said the driver has not been questioned, and the investigation has stalled because witnesses have not cooperated.
Reportedly, the side-view mirror of Rivera’s vehicle was torn off in the collision, helping the female victim identify the car that hit her.
Vaccaro said his client’s bike, which was destroyed, should be examined by police to positively determine if paint left on it matches Rivera’s vehicle.
“I, as [her] attorney, took all the evidence to the 83rd Precinct and we followed up with three different letters and several phone calls” Vaccaro told the Times Newsweekly. “I really don’t know what has been done. I haven’t seen anything in terms of concrete steps.”
Some published reports claimed that the victim did not come forward to assist police in the investigation, but Vaccaro said “she’s cooperated to the fullest extent. We’ve done everything that we can.”
The vehicle has since been repaired, eliminating valuable evidence and an opportunity to identify Rivera in connection with the hit-and run, Vaccaro said
At last Tuesday’s meeting, Tolentino told attendees that 39 summons were given in the last week to cyclists, and that enforcement of riders disobeying traffic signals and other cycling laws will become a priority for the precinct. He noted the large amount of cyclists traveling through the area, and said cycling safety affects not only the riders, but drivers and pedestrians as well.
Tolentino reported a decrease in all seven major felony offenses, except burglaries which are up 39 percent as compared to the same period last year.
“Burglaries is the area [where] we are really struggling in the command,” he said. “That is what drives this precinct.”
He reminded attendees that precinct anti-crime officers will visit residents’ homes to determine their vulnerability to potential burglars.
Tolentino cautioned that even though their building or home may be secure, many apartment houses and buildings are connected and an adjacent structure may not be.
He said the precinct will no longer use an email alert system to report crimes, and urged attendees to call 311 or 911. He believes the email system was inefficient and, “in the end what it did was circumvent the process.”
“If no one is looking at it, you’re not going to get the service you need.”
“We are going to follow up on every 311 call,” he added. “There are two systems that I want you to call. 311 and 911.”
Tolentino noted that in cooperation with the Kings County DistrictAttorney’s office, burglaries will be prosecuted severely and said, “if we arrest individuals that commit burglaries, we need to do our best to make sure they do not come out of the revolving doors and back on the street.”
One resident that is hard of hearing asked how people with auditory difficulties should communicate with the precinct since she was accustomed to using the email system.
“There is a procedure for that and we will address it,” Tolentino advised.
The meeting was the first after the summer recess, and the captain’s initial opportunity to address the community.
Tolentino was born in the Dominican Republic, and has been on the job at the NYPD since 1986, he said. His assignments have included assisting the chief of patrol to get the police bicycle program off the ground in the 1990s.
“I’ve had a couple of meetings with him. I really think he is going to do good for Bushwick,” Barbara Smith, president of the 83rd Precinct Community Council said.
The next 83rd Precinct Community Council meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the 83rd Precinct station house, 480 Knickerbocker Avenue, on Tuesday, Oct. 21.