POLICE MEETING COVERS HOMELESSNESS, MAIL FISHING, AND ‘DECRIMINALIZING’ VIOLATIONS


From left to right: Board President Sean Grissom, Captain Fahey, Sergeant Espinel, and Officer Richards.

By Hannah Reale

On Monday, the 20th precinct hosted their monthly community council meeting. During the most interactive portion of the night, Officer Richards, who specializes in crime prevention, demonstrated the method that mail fishers often use to commit fraud with checks that are being sent through the postal system.

“[Mail thieves are] erasing the ink off of the check and then using it at a later date…. They put it in nail polish remover, and it doesn’t ruin the paper.” She recommended buying uni ball pens that are specifically designed to prevent mail fraud. “The packaging says ‘to avoid fraudulent checks.’ So we’re just asking for people to bring their checks into the post office [to send].” Captain Fahey noted that there have only been three or four isolated incidents of this type of mail fishing in the precinct this year, and recommended banking online.


Tips to prevent mail fraud from the 20th precinct’s Twitter account. 

“We’re transitioning more to intelligent crimes,” Fahey added. “So [criminals] are spending more and more time developing [these tactics] instead of street robbery. They might only get 20 dollars from a stick-up. Now, if you have $30,000 in your account, they can write one check and be gone with that $30,000. That’s more profitable.”

Monica Blum gives brief remarks on her organization. 

Earlier in the evening, Monica Blum, the president of the Lincoln Square Business Improvement District, had given a presentation on the non-profit’s accomplishments over the course of the past 20 years. She answered questions about how the organization works, adding “my advice is free,” in case other areas of the city are trying to start up a Business Improvement District (BID). A BID is, according to the City of New York, “a geographical area where local stakeholders oversee and fund the maintenance, improvement, and promotion of their commercial district.” They also receive funding from the city.

The meeting then opened up to questions and complaints from the community. In response to concerns about homelessness in the 20th precinct, Captain Fahey shared a plan for joint homeless intervention that will be executed on July 14th.

“Goddard [Riverside Community Center] and Crisis Intervention join our officers, and then they go throughout the precinct and make contact with the homeless [to] see if they want services,” Fahey reported. “Sometimes it’s a little more persuasive because it’s not just law enforcement approaching them, so you have a social-worker component coming in. So we basically try to get many people services, if they’re amenable to it.”

“For the most part…our precinct is all about quality of life,” Board President Sean Grissom said. “And this is a major thing about quality of life.”

Fahey also reviewed crime statistics for the past 28 days within the 20th precinct. “We had a spike in robberies…. A lot of these are shopliftings that go bad. People are confronting [the shoplifters] when they shouldn’t be confronting them, and then these things escalate. There’s no major concern with street robbery, stranger robbery.”

“On [June] 13th, the criminal justice reform act went into effect for us,” she added. ‘There are several violations—open container, public urination, spitting, excessive noise—they’ve been decriminalized in the city. So, instead of criminal court summonses, we’re giving them summonses to go to OATH, the office of administrative trials and hearings…. They don’t want us to be giving criminal court summonses.”

Various representatives and community members drew attention to important upcoming events and pieces of legislation.

“One is a five million dollar tax credit that goes towards increasing diversity in writing groups for production, TV, film. Tax credit for writing rooms that include women and minorities,” a representative from Marisol Alcantara’s office reported. “There’s also an increase in [the tax credit to] minority- and women-owned businesses, going from 20,000 dollars that the city can give up to 150,000 dollars. These both have to be signed by the governor, and they’re both important pieces of legislation.”

Another representative from state legislature also announced that legislation banning the usage of e-cigarettes indoors had passed, although it was still waiting on the governor’s signature. He also noted that Shred Day is coming up on July 16th in New York.

A representative from Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer’s office highlighted Brewer’s resource of summer events—a guide that can be found here.

The community council meetings will resume on Monday, September 25th at 7 p.m. at the 20th precinct.

NEWS | 22 comments | permalink
    1. Juan says:

      There has been a very visible increase in homeless people both in our neighborhood and near where I work in midtown. I’m not sure how Bloomberg succeeded in making them largely invisible, but it is really getting out of hand. I am a very compassionate person and feel bad for them and try to help, but it has gone beyond the tipping point.

      • Sarah says:

        “I’m not sure how Bloomberg succeeded in making them largely invisible, but it is really getting out of hand.”

        They still existed, Juan, you just didn’t have to see them, because the cops muscled them around. Is your problem with their existing, or with your having to be aware of that?

        • Juan says:

          I generally don’t like to walk out the door of my home and office and see a homeless person living there – I think you likely feel the same way. I don’t think they should just be swept under the rug and ignored, but the problem is clearly much more visible now. I don’t know if the answer is more homeless shelters, more support services, or something else (yes, I am a liberal UWSer), but having an increasing number of homeless people on the streets sleeping and asking for money helps neither them nor you.

          • Independent says:

            “I don’t think they should just be swept under the rug and ignored,”

            Juan:

            I, for one, found nothing in (even) your original, perfectly reasonable comment to ever suggest such indifference and callousness on your part.

            If there is anything here that is best just ignored, it would have to be gratuitously hostile and provocative, condescending, self-righteous (and more-than-likely /sanctimonious/*), preening comments such as Sarah’s. You have vindicated yourself well in your reply to her (not that you ever /needed/ vindicating).

            (*Just how welcoming and hospitable to the homeless, /personally/, are Sarah and similar scolds?)

      • B.B. says:

        There has been a visible increase in homeless all over Manhattan.

        Pick an area West Village, Chelsea, Tribeca, UWS, UES, Mid-Town (both east and west).. every where you look they are there.

        West 60th across from the Mandarin Oriental hotel looks like a hobo camp most nights, and has only gotten worse over the years.

        Of course it is the summer and with warmer weather living rough on the streets is slightly easier. Hence we “see” more homeless or whatever on the streets.

    2. OriginalMark says:

      Thank you to the NYPD officers who participate in these events and who protect us every day!

    3. Bob Lamm says:

      I’m laughing at the police recommendation that instead of sending checks in the mail we should bank online. Because banking online is completely safe? Because we live in a world with no computer hackers anywhere? Is that the view of the 20th Precinct leadership?

      • AC says:

        Banks have stricter firewalls and are constantly upgrading their safety measures in order to prevent such instances. The good thing about on-line banking is the bank is on the hook for resolving the issue. When your paper check gets ‘fished,’ you’re on the hook for running around and resolving matters.

        I believe the Officer was solely trying to give helpful advice and not be the subject of ridicule.

        Have a Happy Fourth of July!

    4. Mary says:

      I have a question for people who complain about homeless people not being invisible on the street. Is it about your property values, or do you just genuinely not like having to look at them? This is a serious question, why is it such a boiling point for certain folks?

      • Mark says:

        I agree with you on this Mary.

      • Jeff says:

        Its is not just having to see them, there are many reasons why this has become a major problem and frustrates all of us (even a liberal such as myself) with all we spend in taxes. Its a combination of many factors including those w mental illnesses that present a safety risk to all of us, those who scream and aggressively panhandle, those who are passed out in parks not allowing us to enjoy them, those who attack/push innocent people onto the subways, those who urinate in public, those who cost businesses customers by camping in front of stores or harrassing customers and for some Im sure loss of property/ neighborhood value is also a factor. For me personally safety and not being able to use parks and areas I pay taxes for are the main reasons.

        • Mark says:

          I agree with you Jeff.

        • Independent says:

          Good summation, Jeff. I would add that public urination (as well and even more so as defecation) is not only a nuisance but a matter of public health.

          All that you have pointed-out should be obvious, though. The mere fact that people feel put on the defensive by a question such as Mary’s is itself indicative/illustrative of a fundamental, underlying problem here.

    5. Ron Kapon says:

      It is Assembly member Linda Rosenthal who is sponsoring Shred Day from 11AM-2PM on July 16th in front of her office at 230 West 72nd St. Last year over 200 people showed up. Once the AARP shred truck is filled up the event will end. Please bring only items that you can carry with you.
      I live in a building with a mail chute.The PO picks up every late afternoon from the lobby chute. I only use that method when I am sending checks.
      The City Council has decriminalized many offenses and that translates to the NYPD not being able to deal with certain problems. The 20PCT. has the lowest crime rate of any of the NYPD precincts. Thank you DI Holley & all your officers.
      Note- I volunteer at Linda Rosenthal’s office.

      • Sammie@L says:

        Ron, I have a question for you.

        I work a couple of doors down from HR’s office and 2-3 times a week there are seniors using walkers standing in front of the building who are unable to buzz her office or get through the doors w/o assistance (sometimes in the pouring rain) because they’re just not physically able.

        There have also been instances when HR’s office was closed and seniors have stood outside literally crying because they didn’t get their check and didn’t have money for food or meds. I don’t know if they’re genuinely confused or if there’s some major scam going on here.

        On more than one occasion tenants from the building have asked me NOT to assist anyone in getting inside because there’s also a group of people who buzz all of the tenants on the pretense that they’re going to HR’s office. Does Helen R work specifically with seniors, or is she helping ‘those in need,’ in general?

        • Cato says:

          Why are you asking Ron about *Helen* Rosenthal? He said he volunteers for *Linda* Rosenthal.

          Or do you not know the difference?

          • Sammie@L says:

            I meant Linda Rosenthal at 230 W. 72nd Street. I was actually reading a flier from HR at the time I wrote that. So sorry for the discrepancy.

      • Independent says:

        “The City Council has decriminalized many offenses and that translates to the NYPD not being able to deal with certain problems. The 20PCT. has the lowest crime rate of any of the NYPD precincts.”

        Do you not realize that the significance of what you cited in your /second/ sentence is considerably negated by what you cited in your /first/?

        The fewer the acts that are classified as crimes, the lower the crime rate will be. Isn’t that obvious?

        P.S. The result of pointing my browser with JavaScript disabled to your URL was a completely blank page. In maintaining that no site should be /completely/ JavaScript-dependent, I may be in a minority but I am certainly not alone.

      • Independent says:

        Thank you for the info on Shred Day. Is there, perhaps, a web page that you could provide with more info on the scheduled event?

        Re: In-building mail-chutes: Better to place any mail directly into the box at the landing, as envelopes can get stuck in the chute. I’ve seen it happen in my building.

    6. John says:

      Counted 15 homeless sleeping in Dante park yesterday morning on way to work. Dante Park has become a homeless encampment. Not sure why our Mayors policy’s have created this mess.

    7. Independent says:

      Re: The cited legislation that strengthens and expands affirmative-action, race and sex-based preferences in entertainment industry hiring and taxation policy: As “important” as such initiatives may be in their own right, by what rationale were such topics deemed germane to address* in a community police meeting such as the one reported-on in this article?

      *In a decidedly tendentious manner, no less.