By Hannah Reale
Local police officials addressed a spike in thefts and the proliferation of motorized bikes at a recent community council meeting for the 24th precinct, which covers the area from 86th to 110th Street.
Last Wednesday, the council held their final meeting before taking a two-month hiatus. Tom Burnett, board president, kicked off the meeting by confirming executive board members for the following year and introducing the new executive officer, Captain Jack Morrison, who was transferred to the precinct only two days before.
Captain Morrison and Sergeant Fontaine addressed various concerns that the community raised during the question and answer portion of the meeting. One citizen brought up the potential safety threat that motorized bicycles pose in the neighborhood, with illegally high speeds in and out of bike lanes and alleged encouragement or even threat from employers to travel more quickly. The officers confirmed that they were aware of this problem and had at least one operation planned to try to enforce laws against the motorized bikes.
Weekly statistics for the neighborhood, which show an unusually high rate of petit larceny for the year 2017 to date.
Other concerns included mentions of fights and rowdy public behavior that were not being handled by the 24th precinct and a recent spike in petit larceny as shown in the statistics that were passed around at the beginning of the meeting.
“What you have to remember,” Captain Morrison said, “is that this is all to-date, and the statistics can change from month to month…. I can promise you we’re going to work to keep the stats down as best we can.”
Two particular complaints were raised about police attitude and behavior. One woman relayed a friend’s story about unenthusiastic officers that responded to her call about vandalism of flower beds and window boxes outside her building’s window.
“To answer your question about the cops’ attitudes: that’s my job,” Captain Morrison responded. “If there’s a delay in response time, or if their attitudes seem a little lax, I’ll dress them up and roll them out.”
Two mental health counselors who work for a local not-for-profit raised questions about the type of training that police officers receive to defuse situations that involve citizens suffering from mental illness.
“We’ve worked with the department a lot,” one of them reported, “and they come in and out and their attitude is not always pleasant when they’re working with our clients, and it’s a different population, it’s a lot more sensitive [of] a population…. We want to build a rapport with you guys so that, when you guys come out we can [help you help us].”
Captain Morrison responded, addressing a recent transformation in the department to become better at interacting with and helping those with mental health issues, as well as relaying information about a program that the NYPD is currently developing: mobile crisis outreach teams that are specially trailed to enter situations that involve people with mental illnesses.
The meeting also featured a presentation on sleep apnea by a guest speaker, local dentist Theresa Mueller, who listed its symptoms, potential health risks, and ways to prevent its effects. The council’s executive board wrapped up the meeting after the NYPD representatives responded to many questions and concerns from the community.
Board president Burnett finished with a reminder that National Night Out, an annual event that is intended to bring the community and the police closer together, will be held on Tuesday, August 1st from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in many locations across the city.