Meetings Meant to ‘Reestablish Communication’ Between Police and Public Have a Limited Guest List

The 20th Precinct meeting at the Boat Basin.

By Carol Tannenhauser

NYPD leaders addressed hot topics like fireworks and homelessness at meetings with small groups of community members, held simultaneously in every precinct in the city, on Thursday night. Those invited got just 48-hours notice.

Called “community roundtables,” meetings were held in both Upper West Side precincts: the 20th, which stretches from 59th Street to the north side of 86th, and the 24th, which continues to 110th Street. The meetings come after weeks of protests in New York and elsewhere against police brutality, and calls by some to cut the NYPD budget.

“The police told us they were directed to meet with the public to start reestablishing communication as the ‘pause’ begins to be lifted,” explained Chris Giordano, president of the West 64th thru 67th Streets Block Association. “I was asked to facilitate the discussion the day of the meeting.”

Attendees included representatives of community boards, BIDS, block associations, retailers, and elected officials.

No reason was given for the haste, but Deputy Inspector Naoki Yaguchi, commander of the 24th, said the full public was not invited to the roundtables because of restrictions on crowd size due to the pandemic. These meetings will not take the place of monthly precinct community council meetings, which are open to the public and expected to resume in the fall.

The 20th Precinct met at the 79th Street boat basin. The media was not notified, but Giordano sent WSR the following report afterwards:

Community members shared concerns about enforcement of mask and social distancing requirements, homeless supports, and the need for increased police dialogue with the community. Captain Sarubbi shared that they have not been directed to enforce social distancing and mask wearing.

As facilitator, I brought up the “defund” movement, but that conversation did not gain traction with the participants. Community discussions about reforms in the NYPD would require a larger and more diverse group at the table. [To Giordano’s eye, the only people of color attending were officers.] There are big issues that can’t be dealt with unless there is communication and collaboration with the public. Hopefully, this isn’t just theatre.

Deputy Inspector Naoki Yaguchi, of the 24th, spoke about crime (video 1) and fireworks (video 2). On fireworks, he said the precinct had gotten many complaints, but cracking down is a tricky task — officers need to catch violators in the act to charge them, for instance. See his full remarks below.

In a phone conversation, DI Yaguchi added that some community members offered the police support, which is much appreciated in this time of dissent and, hopefully, reconciliation. “I empathizes with the press,” he said. “Like the police, they are facing attacks. We feel under siege.”

Officers at the 20th expressed similar sentiments, according to Giordano. When he asked the police why barricades still stand at both ends of West 82nd Street, where the precinct is located, “Some of the officers shared safety concerns, but reported no incidents,” he said.

NEWS | 25 comments | permalink
    1. Will says:

      I saw for years the harassment that went on in the name of Stop and Frisk and the Broken Windows Theory. If the cops aren’t willing to meet and address these concerns, and how they’re going to show up better for the community instead of quality of life harassment, then there really is no dialogue to be had.

      • Mike says:

        Hello Will,

        The police only follow the directions provided by the political leadership.

        • rs says:

          False on the face of it. Go look at the video of the cops turning their backs on the mayor. The cops are a law unto themselves, always have been.

      • Joey says:

        Appears that the Police hand selected its audience. Sort of like preaching to the choir.
        Since the NYPD abandoned its form of Broken Windows Policing crime has been rising and it appears that crime and quality of life are spiraling out of control. It’s like NYC is in a time machine headed for the 1970s.
        Could it be that the Broken Windows model is actually the real Community Policing.

        • Vote wisely says:

          It’s was not the NYPD who abandoned “broken window” policing, but the mayor, the city council, district attorneys and Albany. By choosing to no longer prosecute a vast array of misdemeanors and returning criminals repeatedly arrested for felonies including robbery, the balance of incentives has shifted in favor of crime. The NYPD arrests and rearrests criminals but they are sent back home almost immediately. But, hey, didn’t people want an empty Rykers? Careful what you wish for.

    2. Ellen Azorin says:

      I have attended the 20th Precinct community meetings several times before Covid, and find them valuable. How do I get on the guest list? I didn’t even know about the one you report here.

    3. Elizabeth Inserra says:

      They should wear masks, which they don’t in large numbers, and take down those ridiculous barricades. Those say, among other not very police-like things, we’re afraid of you.

      • Peddie J says:

        Concur about the barricades blocking sidewalks on 82nd St needing to come down. They’re 3 feet high and would do little in the event of actual civil unrest. And during this time of calm,, they say to residents, “You’re not welcome to walk this City block. You do not own your own tax-paid streets.”

    4. Anonymous says:

      This statement is not correct:

      [To Giordano’s eye, the only people of color attending were officers

      Not all people of color have darker skin tones.

    5. Marcia-K says:

      Stunning insight from the Neighborhood Police roundtable: Police say they were NOT told to
      speak out in the street about masks and distancing! What happened to Bill Di Blah Bah’s
      early threat to call out or fine those w/o masks? It’s the YOUNGER people, mainly young women who rampantly don’t wear masks. W/o poiice presence and warning in the street they’ll continue to blow off the danger they bring to the streets

    6. UWSHebrew says:

      Fireworks is a “hot topic”. Funny and pathetic. This is all pathetic. Worst NYC mayor in history, worst NY governor in my lifetime, Dermot Shea has no backbone, shootings are skyrocketing. Nice work Democrats. Thanks so very, very much for the quality of life here in NYC.

      • stevieboy says:

        Awww…where’s my violin?

        You live in the greatest city in the world in the most technologically advanced era in history. And you avail yourself of everything the city has to offer.

        How would you have survived during real hardship? Think about it.

        • UWSHebrew says:

          Your fork-tongued response didn’t work. This is not random “hardship” to overcome, it’s life-threatening danger brought about by absurd policies and deliberate inaction instituted by both the governor and the mayor. Despite your knowing that of course, you chose to write an admonition meant to shame. You failed.

          • stevieboy says:

            Sometimes I just want to give you a big hug, you know that??:)

            Having said that, I hope we never have to share a fox hole.

            I mean, you try to project such strength and toughness (like your boy in the Oval) but then you act like a panicky and hysterical child when the &%$# hits the fan. Hiding in the bunker. Sad:)

    7. jimbo says:

      I grew up on the west side. My parents grew up on the west side. My grandparents migrated to the west side .I was a cop on the UWS for twenty years. I made well over 500 felony arrest. I was involved in two on duty shootings. I get so many laughs from my leftwing nieghbors.

    8. oldtimeUWSer says:

      Now that balance is more important than crime prevention, it would be nice if they let us know what the acceptable level of crime will be going forward so we can plan accordingly.

    9. Dru says:

      I’m surprised no-one brought up the many traffic violations; speeding, running red lights, lack of mufflers etc. Crossing the street on the UWS has become death defying.

    10. Tony says:

      The police should turn in their hand cuffs which would be safer for everyone. Especially the police since no arrests no lawsuits, no dept. charges and can’t get arrested. If a person says he doesn’t want to be arrested or resist give him a card to turn himself in at the pct.

      • Please_Leave says:

        Tony you the man. As a follow up also give them the keys to the cells so after they can come and go as they please. And in addition as a reward for turning themselves in give them a $100 gift card to McDonalds.

    11. Frank says:

      I suggest everybody on here contact their Precinct Community Affairs Officers and ask to be enrolled in the Citizens Police Academy and the Ride-Along Program when they are re-instituted after the virus restrictions.

      Both are tremendously valuable learning experiences and neither is a “how great we art” waste of time.