‘We are going through very difficult times’: Flushing’s 109th Precinct to implement aggressive strategy to suppress crime

NYPD 109th Precinct Commanding Officer Louron Hall speaks about the precinct’s increase in crimes for the year at a community council meeting held at Flushing Community Church on Wednesday, Sept. 14. (Photo via Twitter/NYPD 109th Precinct)

Beginning on Monday, Sept. 19, the 109th Precinct in downtown Flushing will implement an aggressive strategy to suppress crime in the area, as the precinct is dealing with a major increase in crimes this year, Commanding Officer Louron Hall announced during a community council meeting held this week.

Hall will develop a unit consisting of one lieutenant, three sergeants and 30 police officers that will deal specifically with street crimes. The unit will be split into three teams of 10 officers, each of which will conduct tours throughout the precinct. 

The 109th Precinct serves the northeast portion of Queens, including downtown Flushing, east Flushing, Queensboro Hill, College Point, Malba, Whitestone, Beechhurst and Bay Terrace.

During the 109th Precinct Community Council meeting held at the Bowne Street Community Church, Hall said the precinct is currently struggling with crime in all seven major categories: murder, rape, robbery, felony assault, burglary, grand larceny and grand larceny auto.

“So far, this year, we’re at 1,988 crimes, which translates to an increase of 81% in crimes for the year to date. We are going through very difficult times,” Hall said. “Right now, we are No. 1 in the city as it relates to crime increase.” 

According to Hall, out of the 1,988 crimes, 452 are violent crimes that consist of homicides, rapes, robberies and felony assaults.

This year, there have been four homicides, four shootings and 25 rapes. There have been 195 robberies — 91% more than last year — while burglaries have gone up by 53%. Grand larcenies have increased by a whopping 118%, while there’s been a 13% bump in grand larceny auto. This year has seen 1,536 property crimes in comparison to 842 last year.

Over the 28-day period, crime has increased as well, Hall said.

According to Hall, they’re seeing a lot of street robberies occurring in the downtown Flushing area at various times of the day. 

“Individuals, who are either on foot or on scooters, snatch purses, chains, credit cards and cash,” Hall said. “On the streets, we have to be very alert. We can’t have our heads in our cellphones. These are all crimes of opportunity.” 

There have been multiple robberies of commercial establishments, Hall said, with males wearing masks and hoodies approaching clerks behind the register and taking money and cigarettes. According to Hall, the individuals they have arrested are coming from the Bronx. 

In regards to residential burglaries, which are up by 244%, Hall is encouraging people to install cameras in their homes. 

As the city is continuing to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, Hall said individuals wearing masks are not seen as suspicious, as they were prior to COVID. 

“If you saw someone wearing a mask, you’d call 911. But now, that’s not the case. Things are very difficult. I don’t know if we’ll go back to the way things were,” Hall said. 

With an increased volume of 911 calls, Hall added that they’re down by 42 police officers this year. On Sept. 9, six officers resigned from the precinct to work in different departments.  

When asked about police officers who don’t show up when a resident calls for assistance, Hall confirmed that it is a problem, as the precinct covers a heavily populated area with fewer police officers on the ground.

In response to a question asked about individuals who are arrested and released, Hall said police officers are frustrated when that happens, but it doesn’t deter them from doing their job. 

“These officers are the finest of the finest. They go out there every single day doing remarkable work,” said Hall, who awarded two cops for an arrest they made in August. 

QNS contacted the Office of the Deputy Commissioner of Public Information (DCPI) for comment on the 109th Precinct’s crime stats, but was referred to a press release issued in August that included NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell’s statement on combating crime in the city. 

Sewell said victims of crime remain a central focus for the NYPD. 

“We know there is much more work to be done to address crime in our city,” Sewell said. “We must push forward as we continue to advocate for further refinements to the state’s well-meaning criminal justice reforms that too many recidivists and violent criminals exploit.” 

In a statement to QNS, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said the precinct’s statistics are “alarming and are of serious concern.”

“We are clearly still suffering from the disruptions our entire society experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Richards said. “In the long run, these can only be addressed by improving the social net and building an economy that works for all New Yorkers. This has been and will continue to be a top priority for me and my office.”