By Bill Parry
Queens District Attorney Richard Brown briefed the borough’s elected officials at his 26th legislative breakfast, held at his Kew Gardens offices last Friday.
The public safety update highlighted key accomplishments and initiatives over the past year that saw the borough contribute to New York City’s historic decline in serious crime.
“Last year was another eventful and exciting year for us,” Brown said. “It was a year in which we were once again among the City’s leaders in crime reduction — and it was a year in which we, as prosecutors, contributed greatly to the city’s historic decline in serious crime through our law enforcement initiatives and the utilization of cutting-edge intervention and prevention programs — which, in turn, have created safer neighborhoods for our residents.”
According to NYPD statistics, Queens saw an overall reduction is serious crimes of nearly 8 percent last year as opposed to 5.4 percent citywide.
“We only had 50 homicides last year — which is the second lowest number of homicides since 1961, and a far cry from the 361 homicides that we had in 1991 — my first year as district attorney,” Brown said. “In 2017, we handled over 57,000 arrest cases. And once again, we had the best arrest to arraignment time in the city. We also had the highest violent felony conviction rate in the city.”
Brown pointed to a dramatic advancement in technology as a contributing factor in helping his office excel at fighting crime.
“We are completely computerized,” he said. “We are linked together by modern voicemail, text messaging and mobile phone systems, and our NYPD Command Center keeps us apprised of everything and anything that is happening in Queens County at all hours of the day and night.”
Brown added that Queens continued to lead the City in many significant categories such as: having the highest domestic violence conviction rate and the lowest dismissal rate; having assistant district attorneys supervise nearly 350 lineups at precincts; and the dismantling of auto theft rings, resulting in a dramatic decrease in auto crimes. In 1991, Queens had 52,000 cars reported stolen and that number was down to less than 1,600 last year.
“We have a first-class Child Advocacy Center here on Queens Boulevard that handles all of our child abuse cases,” Brown said. “And the Family Justice Center assists victims of domestic violence along with their families.”
Brown was also proud of the third anniversary of the District Attorney’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, which was created to help the nearly 50 percent of Queens residents born abroad navigate the criminal justice system.
“We are a busy metropolitan prosecutor’s office of professionals committed to the highest level of professionalism,” Brown said during his conclusion. “We are an office that I believe is among the best in the State — indeed the best in the country. We have the respect of our law enforcement colleagues and the confidence of the 2.3 million residents of Queens County, whom we represent, but we need your help to secure the resources necessary to continue to reduce the level of violence within the County and improve the quality of the lives of our residents.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr