By Madina Toure
Alluding to the popular phrase from Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities,” Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the city is in “the best of times and the worst of times” at the Queens Chamber of Commerce’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Luncheon in Corona.
Speaking before community leaders and businessmen and business leaders at Terrace on the Park in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Bratton said Queens and the city are in the midst of an economic boom, citing the growth in the technology sector and Broadway’s high ticket sales this year.
But he also stressed that crimes such as terorrism and quality-of-life issues persist.
“I remember what this place looked like in 1990,” Bratton said. “I remember what it looked like in 1994. We are nowhere near every going back to those days, I can guarantee that.”
He said for the past 15 years, since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the NYPD has been able to prevent terror strikes on the city.
He also noted new developments.
By the end of March, all 36,000 police officers will have custom-designed smartphones. About 1,300 more cadets will be graduating from the Police Academy in College Point within the next several months. And officers will now receive a minimum of five days of firearms training per year and in some instances up to 10 days, up from two days of training.
Bratton said crime has dropped in a substantial way due to the hard work and investment of the NYPD and the community.
For the last 23 years, throughout the city but specifically in Queens, crime has gone down every year, Bratton said.
Overall crime in the city is down nearly 80 percent, auto thefts are down 95 percent and homicides are down in excess of 80 percent.
“We will never get it to where there is none, but we can certainly keep trying to move it down and that is what we are continuing to do,” he said.
The chamber holds the luncheon yearly to celebrate the contributions of the Irish community to the borough in honor of St. Patrick’s Day on March 17.
“St. Patrick’s Day, to me, is like Thanksgiving,” Thomas Grech, the chamber’s executive director, said. “You don’t have to be Irish to love it.”
Albert Pennisi, a member of the Chamber Foundation Board, said the Irish community has made numerous contributions to the city, noting that many Irish individuals founded sanitation firms and owned small and big businesses in the city.
“We’ve come to honor all of those folks today,” Pennisi said.
Borough President Melinda Katz touted the borough’s diversity and said Bratton embodies the type of police commissioner the city needs, which she described as a leader who is willing to take chances to keep the city safe.
“Commissioner Bratton is that commissioner,” Katz said.
The borough president also praised him for making the satellite office of the 105th Precinct open for 24 hours.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour