By Madina Toure
The NYPD approved a community policing program in the 109th Precinct that will bring in a substantial number of new officers to serve all northeast Queens residents as a way of compensating for the tow pound in College Point.
Thomas Conforti, the 109th’s commanding officer, is breaking up the precinct’s coverage into six quadrants—College Point, Whitestone, Flushing, Bay Terrace, downtown Flushing and Auburndale—beginning April 1. Each quadrant will have 10 officers, who will be dedicated to those neighborhoods 24/7.
Vallone and Conforti made the announcement standing alongside civic leaders and Community Board 7 members Feb. 10 at the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church at 150-02 12th Ave. in Whitestone.
The precinct has historically had the burden of serving the largest population of any precinct in New York City, with its resources heavily focused on downtown Flushing, according to Vallone.
In exchange for the long-term lease of the NYPD’s tow pound in College Point, which sparked concerns among residents and community leaders, Vallone said he was able to secure a contingent of new officers for the precinct to allow it to fully implement the community policing program.
“I think the critical part of this is that no time in the 109th history (have) we had an influx of officers to boost the numbers up by a third,” Vallone said. “This really changes the dynamics of policing in the northern part of the 109th Precinct.”
Vanna Partridge, recently appointed president of the 109th Precinct’s Community Council, said the new program will likely increase the response time overall by having officers assigned to specific neighborhoods.
“Any time you have officers that a community becomes familiar with, when they see them on a regular basis, they feel more comfortable reporting a crime, and it helps to build a stronger partnership with the community by having officers present,” Partridge said in an interview with TimesLedger.
Vallone said he sought a formal agreement with the NYPD guaranteeing the program.
“I said, ‘I want this writing,’” he said. “I don’t want it pulled from us at the last minute. The precinct is still working out the logistics of the program, but some of the officers will be cadets and others will be seasoned officers.”
The first 25 officers, who came straight from the Police Academy, attended the news conference launching the community policing program.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour