Photo by Dirk Knight.
By Krista Carter
The 24th precinct community council meeting on Wednesday night covered a wide range of issues, from an increase in bicyclists getting hit by cars, to a series of recent motorcycle thefts, to the trend of teenagers stealing credit cards and cell phones. Captain Marlon Larin, commander of the precinct, led the meeting. The 24th covers the area from 86th street to 110th (the 20th community council meeting covering the Southern half of the neighborhood will be held on Monday).
Here’s a rundown of what was discussed:
• Felony crimes carried out by younger kids; specifically, grand larcenies (12 total) out of Booker T. Washington Park and Riverside Park (e.g. stealing credit cards and cell phones while residents are caught off guard sunbathing, napping, socializing in the park). We covered this issue here.
- Police response: Increased enforcement and presence with plain clothes and uniformed officers; cameras placed in park (locations not specified)
- A phone that was stolen snapped a picture of the suspect (identified as being as young as 12 years old)
- Soccer team in Riverside Park had belongings confiscated and suspects were thought to be kids no younger than 16 years of age. The soccer team got the suspects to take a group photo. The police then identified the suspects as students of a nearby school and 10 arrests were made on 7/29 and 7/30 after the suspects were seen with stolen items.
• On 8/30 Sailors and Soldiers monument vandalized with red spray paint; a witness reported the act and a 17 year old male and 15 year old female arrested.
• As Israel and Palestine tensions mounted, stencil graffiti saying, “Boycott Israel” and “Free Gaza” were popping up throughout the neighborhood. There was not enough evidence to call the act a hate crime, but nevertheless, the graffiti was cleaned up and the situation is currently being monitored.
• Vehicle break-ins are down 50% due to a crime prevention campaign of direct patrol, high visibility and light towers.
• An establishment on Amsterdam Avenue (El Ranchito) was operating without a liquor license and is currently being under investigation.
• On 7/18 there was a non-fatal stabbing at Douglass Houses. The case is open, but the suspect is known.
• On 8/31 there was a non-fatal shooting at Douglass Houses following activities of gambling. Suspect arrested.
- Crossing guards’ hours changed after a new contract was reached. While they originally reported to work at 8am, three times a day, they are now starting earlier at 7:30am and reporting two times a day for 2.5-hour blocks. Lunch duty has been removed since this period was only relevant to one middle school.
- At PS 75 an officer is being stationed at 95 St. and West End Ave. to enforce the new no left hand turn from 7 a.m. until 9 a.m.
• ID theft:
- ATM skimmer discovered at 7-11 (Broadway between 96th and 97th Streets). Discovered by stock boy who was placing water on the ATM and the plate housing the camera fell out. Victims are unknown, but it is being under investigation. ATM is located in back of store and customers are encouraged to be wary of such strange placements. Before using such an ATM, wiggle or play with card slot to see if anything falls out (like skimmer).
• UN General Assembly currently in town but there have been no ISIS threats thus far. Please be alert and if you hear of anything, make a report.
• Recent attempted robbery at 106th and Broadway at 4 a.m. A teenager approached a guy on a bench and asked for his wallet. Police chased him on foot and although he was not apprehended, his firearm which was ditched and recovered by officers after a resident of the Douglass Houses called in and reported. The “firearm” was actually an air pistol/BB gun. Investigation is ongoing.
• Grand larceny with motorcycles: thought to be because season ending. 4 taken in total, 3 on Wednesday and 1 on Friday. Plan has been enacted.
Traffic Overview (presented by 24th precinct commander, James Dennedy):
• 3 fatalities occurred over the summer
• A driver on West End Ave. was interviewed and thought that the street was like Amsterdam (i.e. one-way), which attributes to cars making sharp left turns from West End Highway.
• West End Avenue is currently undergoing construction. It is being dug up and a pedestrian “safety zone” (similar to Broadway) will extend from 95th Street until 97th Street.
• In order to reduce collisions, eliminating turning lanes on West End Ave. is being proposed, as well as creating larger parking lanes (check CD7 website for more info).
• Resident proposed a caution light at 100th St and Manhattan where there is heavy foot traffic by young students. There is currently a stop sign; however, it is largely ignored.
• School bus initiative will focus on cars passing stopped school buses picking up students.
• Cyclist collisions are up more than 100% from last year (from 15 to 31). This stat includes cases where a vehicle hits a cyclist and — in very rare instances — when two cyclists collide or solo bicycle crashes. As cycling becomes more prevalent, cyclists need to abide by the traffic laws. Larin told us later that cyclist summonses were up 42.6% since the start of the year (388 vs. 272).
• 8/4-8/31: A 25 mph zone was enforced on Broadway. All other avenues have a speed limit of 30 mph. In November, Amsterdam will have a 25 mph zone enforced.
Speaker from DA’s office:
• October is Domestic Violence Awareness month.
• Manhattan family Justice Center has been established at 80 Center Street. There is an upcoming drive.
• Resident concern: A group of 40-50 kids from the Wise Towers were charging after children coming from school, running north on Columbus (into and across the street). Issue needs to be addressed.
- Capt. Larin: Set to meet with principals to get kids into educational programs (especially Harlem Children’s Zone)
• Resident concern: Tenant to tenant bullying reported, but not always recorded in precinct files unless a crime occurs (e.g. assault). There needs to be prevention rather than waiting for an incident to occur and then responding.
• Resident (George) chastises the media for reporting on police brutality when officers “are just doing their job.” (verbal conflict ensues between him and another resident)
• Resident of Huntersmoon Hall notified community that someone is taking pictures of residents coming and going from bathroom at Hunter residence. It is ongoing and he and other older residents are suffering health problems (stress) because of it.
Top photo by Dirk Knight. Bottom photo of Captain Larin speaking with community members by Krista Carter.