By Naeisha Rose
Concerned citizens from Jamaica who live between Van Wyck Expressway to 175th Street and from Hillside Avenue to the Long Island Rail Road tracks got a chance to meet police from the 103rd Precinct Tuesday in the first of many Neighborhood Community Officer meetings.
NCOs are police who residents can have direct contact with by calling, texting or emailing tips about crime in their area.
“The NCO program is something the NYPD started doing because we felt that we lost the rapport with the neighborhood and the cops,” Officer Louis York said at Queens Central Library. “It started becoming about the summonses, harassing and stuff of that nature, so now we realized what a huge asset we lost in the community with the information that you guys have, and we lost that line of dialogue of information. What we do is have two cops that represent a sector, day in and day out, so they can know the community and the businesses.”
Officer Patrick Lynch said the NCO program was created in wake of the elimination of foot-post policing that involved officers who stood around monitoring certain areas “eight hours a day.”
“This requires us to be more creative in getting rid of problems,” Lynch said.
Police and residents discussed the problems that plague the area and what they could do to address them together. The issues ranged from drugs, illegal vendors and public nuisance.
Representing the area known as “Sector Adam” were Officers Adam Sclafani and York.
For Amy Anderson, a senior citizen, fighting among the hundreds of children who leave from the local high school was becoming troublesome and scary for her and other elders in the neighborhood.
“It’s really bad,” Anderson said. “The monsters from Hillcrest [High School], what is being done to address it? The mobs that come down that hill – there is no respect for the elderly.”
Anderson made a complaint to the 103rd Precinct about students harassing local storekeepers last week. Sclafani addressed the issue by “going to each storekeeper” and leaving them his contact cards so that they have an officer nearby to stop the problem next time.
The other cops also explained that some of the rowdy students who attend Hillcrest High School are not all from the Jamaica area, but are kids from Astoria and Long Island City who just don’t have respect for the neighborhood. The officers said they have and will continue to speak with their parents.
The cops also said that they would add more undercover police to nab the individuals selling or using narcotics at the train station at Parson and Archer avenues.
Residents complained about Saint Joseph’s Medical Center, a methadone clinic on Hillside Avenue.
“I despise it,” Joe Moretti said. “They don’t have proper security and it’s people from Long Island there and they hang out at the park to do drugs and block sidewalks … that’s the problem with Jamaica. Every hotel that is turned into a homeless shelter and every drug clinic is dumped into here.”
The officers agreed about the methadone clinic being a problem and sent more undercover officers to the food places like the White Castle on 175th Street on Hillside. According to Sclafani there has been a reduction of nuisance at the burger joint, and they are trying to bring down crime at other eateries.
When it came to illegal vendors stealing resident parking to sell cars without permits, the 103rd is towing those vehicles and will continue to “until it is no longer a viable business” for those taking the parking spots on Hillside on 144th Street and near Queens Boulevard, Officer Timothy Russo said.
While the officers and the residents could not find an answer to every problem, they were happy “by how far” they have come, Officer David Strom said.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose