New 109th Precinct commander addresses robbery and auto theft concerns in Flushing Community

109 Precinct Meeting
Photo by Rachel Butler

Approximately 35 Flushing residents attended the NYPD 109th Precinct Community Council meeting at Bowne Street Community Church on Jan. 11 where they were introduced to a new commanding officer who addressed an uptick in robberies and auto thefts.

The NYPD has appointed Deputy Inspector Kevin Coleman to take over the precinct who– prior to the move– was the commanding officer of the 104th Precinct that covers the Queens neighborhoods of Ridgewood, Maspeth, Middle Village and Glendale.

Coleman, who spoke to the attendees, said that he had worked with the NYPD for over 20 years and that he is honored and privileged to be appointed as the new commanding officer for the 109th precinct. He also tried to paint a rosy picture for the year ahead. 

“We are going to have a really good 2024. We are going to increase public safety and our goal is to improve the neighborhoods. I am confident that by working with all the great cops in the 109, our community partners and elected officials that we will have a successful year,” he said as he opened the meeting.

Deputy Inspector Kevin J. Coleman Photo courtesy of the NYPD

Coleman said that the number of major crimes was up 4% in 2023 compared to 2022, with robberies up 7%. He did, however, note that rape, murders and shootings were down overall.

Many of the robberies followed a similar pattern whereby a person will watch an individual who they believe may be carrying a large amount of cash and follow them and rob them. 

This was the case in a particular incident that the commanding officer mentioned involving a 65 year old woman whose purse, which had a considerable amount of cash in it, was robbed on Jan. 6 in an elevator of a residential building in Flushing.

“People like to watch people in banks or people who they suspect are carrying large amounts of cash and then they could follow you and attack you, but there are also a lot of deception scams out there where someone might come up to you and ask you something or show you something to distract you so they can take your money,” Coleman said. 

He advised people that if they are going to a bank to be aware that they could be watched and if a stranger approaches you when you are in the bank to completely ignore them. 

“Do not talk to them. They are trying to distract you and when you are doing your banking that is not the time for a stranger to approach you and start bothering you,” Coleman advised. 

He added that scammers are also more likely to target seniors and people where they think there could be a language barrier.

Another persistent problem at the 109 is vehicle crime, which Coleman said is one of his top priorities this year.

He said that it is not just stolen cars that is the problem but that illegal mopeds and dirt bikes, vehicles that are not registered and fraudulent license plates also contribute to vehicle crimes in the area.

The commanding officer added that vehicle crimes such as stolen cars or reckless driving can also contribute to more crimes being committed.

“Once a car is stolen that individual can also use that car to commit further crimes such as a robbery for example and reckless driving can create quality of life issues so vehicle crime overall can lead to more crimes in the community,” Coleman said.

He added that the 109 have implemented a new program of traffic enforcement agents, which he also ran at the 104.

“We are having traffic enforcement agents help us respond to parking issues quicker. What this means is that it can help us respond to parking complaints faster and it can free up cops to respond to other issues in the precinct,” he explained. 

Coleman explained that there are not enough cops at the 109 due to staffing issues so he is optimistic that these agents will help the precinct to alleviate some of the workload. 

Attendees at the meeting wished Deputy Inspector Kevin Coleman well in his new role and welcomed him to the 109 precinct- which covers Downtown Flushing, East Flushing, Queensboro Hill, College Point, Malba, Whitestone, Beechhurst and Bay Terrace..