A public safety town hall hosted by Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar brought NYPD Police Commissioner Edward Caban, NYPD leadership and commanding officers from neighboring precincts to Jamaica Avenue in Woodhaven, on Wednesday, Sept. 20.
Invited guests and members of the public entered the Woodhaven Manor, located at 96-01 Jamaica Ave., beginning at around 5 p.m., for a chance to speak with the NYPD on a variety of public safety-related topics, including the presence of illegal smoke shops and reckless motorbike riders.
Rajkumar welcomed Caban and other members of the NYPD in attendance, including NYPD Assistant Commissioner Kaz Daughtry, Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey, Inspector William Glynn, in place of Chief of Patrol John Chell and NYPD First Deputy Commissioner Tania Kinsella.
Assistant Chief Christine Bastednbeck, the commanding officer of NYPD Patrol Borough Queens North, and Assistant Chief Kevin Williams, the commanding officer of NYPD Patrol Borough Queens South, were also in attendance.
Neighborhood precinct commanding officers were present to answer questions from the public, including Captain Jeremy Kivlin of the 102nd Precinct, Deputy Inspector Kevin Coleman of the 104th Precinct and Deputy Inspector Jerome Bacchi of the 106th Precinct.
“When I ran for this office, I knocked on every door and the number one concern of everybody in our district was public safety. So we’re going to talk about it tonight,” said Rajkumar. “We’re going to talk about school safety, including cyber bullying. We’re going to talk about hate crimes. We’re going to talk about the proliferation of unlicensed illegal smoke shops cropping up in our district and we have the best of the best here in Woodhaven as we do that.”
Other Queens legislators who also attended the Rajkumar’s event were Councilwoman Lynn Schulman and Councilwoman Joann Ariola. Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz also made a brief appearance and discussed with the crowd the benefits of the Merchants Business Improvement District Program. Katz said the district has acquired 200 businesses applying 140 trespass affidavits to further punish repeat offenders who commit retail theft.
The crowd of more than 350 people were treated to food from the venue and heard from the NYPD panel on the prefaced topics through the dozens of questions that were asked. Stand-out questions asked by the few who were able to speak directly to Caban and the panel involved the use of drone technology in law enforcement and the notion of bringing back a stop-and-frisk/broken windows theory approach to crime.
Caban reiterated the intentions of the NYPD, looking ahead at his time as commissioner and reflecting on his appointment to the position.
“I was born and raised in this city. This is where my family, friends and loved ones still live, so I take public safety here very personally, just like you all do. And together, we are all working toward the same goals, safe streets, safe subways, and safe schools is the job in front of us,” said Caban. “But for the men and women of the NYPD, it is more than just a job. It is our sworn duty, our sacred responsibility, and we understand what is at stake.”
QNS attempted to ask Caban about any concerns of budget cuts coming to the NYPD, considering Mayor Eric Adams warned of budget cuts to city agencies due to the financial strain of the migrant crisis on the city. QNS was directed to inquire with DCPI and is waiting for a response.
Rajkumar again shared her thanks with the NYPD at the end of the event and acknowledged those in attendance.
Woodhaven Manor co-owner Sangita Patel, who made the venue available for the town hall, said she’s hopeful her business will now make a comeback since the pandemic. The venue space was forced to close its doors for over a year during the pandemic and she told QNS it’s been very hard for the business.