Police Commissioner James O’Neill visited with members of the 112th Precinct Community Council at their May 16 meeting in Forest Hills, and spoke about the ongoing crime decline across the city.
The commissioner, along with Queens Borough President Melinda Katz were two of the honored guests at Wednesday’s meeting in Forest Hills. In addition, 13 new graduates from the police academy were also in attendance.
“Things in the city right now are good, and when I speak, I don’t just speak about things in the NYPD, but things in New York City. 2017, we haven’t seen crime numbers like that since the early 1950s, and that’s a good thing. We had 292 homicides last year in New York City — 292 too many, of course, but look back at 1990, there were 2,245 homicides in this city,” O’Neill said.
O’Neill mentioned the contributions of former New York City mayors in employing more law enforcement, which have aided in bringing down crime rates city wide. Prior to these changes, crime in the city had been on an upward trend since the 1970s, according to historical data compiled by the Disaster Center from the FBI UCS Annual Crime Reports. In the early 1980s, crime in the city reached an all time high across all categories.
“This crime has been going on a downward trend since Mayor Dinkins hired 6,000 new cops back in 1992. When Mayor Giuliani was elected in 1994, he hired [former Police Commissioner] Bill Bratton and those numbers have continued to decrease year after year,” he said.
The commissioner also praised the efforts of the 112th Precinct, which is responsible for areas of Forest Hills and Rego Park. He highlighted the work of the precinct’s commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Robert Ramos, and Deputy Chief Juanita Holmes, commander of Patrol Borough Queens North, saying that “one day she might be standing in my shoes.”
“Rob continues to do a great job in the 112th, and Juanita is doing a great job out here in Queens North. Her dedication, not only to the men and women of the NYPD, but to the people of the city, and her ability to establish relationships in the community and build on those relationships, is really something special,” he said.
According to statistics from the NYPD, crime in the 112th has followed a downward trend, much like overall crime in New York City. From 1990 to 2017, crimes in all categories, including grand larceny, burglary and robbery have all gone down in the confines of the precinct.
O’Neill, a 36-year veteran of the NYPD, directly addressed the 13 new recruits in attendance; he swore them in earlier this month. He emphasized the newfound responsibility they have to protect and serve the people of the city.
“There’s not too many jobs in this world where you raise your right hand and take an oath. This is what it’s all about, the people sitting in this room and the other eight and a half million people in this city. If you never forget that, then you’ll do a really great job, because you have the opportunity to make a tremendous impact on people’s lives,” O’Neill said.
He reminded the attendees at the meeting that the job of law enforcement “is not only to keep you safe, but to make you feel safe” and to make sure local police were catering to the needs of the community.
“So you have to make sure we’re being responsive to your needs. If you see something out there that makes you uncomfortable, call 911, call 311 and we’ll respond and we’ll do our best,” said the commissioner.