By Joy Bergmann
Incidents of the most serious crimes are up 42% in the 24th Precinct and up 41% in the 20th Precinct, compared to the same January 1st – February 20th period in 2021, NYPD CompStat data show. [Click the links for detailed numbers.]
Both precincts are seeing especially significant increases in stealing of all sorts, their commanding officers said during their respective Community Council meetings in February.
Robberies have jumped 60% in the 2-4, with 24 incidents versus 15 in 2021. And package thefts remain an intractable problem. “They’re happening all over the place,” said Deputy Inspector Naoki Yaguchi, urging residents to carefully track their shipments, to be cautious about allowing strangers into residential buildings and to have boxes sent to a monitored location, if possible.
Capt. Neil Zuber of the 20th echoed that concern, and added, “One of the biggest increases we’re seeing right now is in e-bike thefts.” Most are being stolen from deliveristas, he said; residents also need to be vigilant. “Whether it’s 30 seconds or overnight, you don’t want to leave your e-bike unsecured.”
One local said thieves had hit her street twice in one week, swiping catalytic converters. “They’re actually out there window shopping, going around looking for specific makes and models of vehicles,” said Zuber.
WSR asked the commanders to explain the dramatic drop in traffic summonses issued to drivers [including e-bikers]. The UWS had one homicide in 2021, but traffic fatalities spiked last year with nine deaths, compared to two in 2020 and four in 2019.
“Part of it is staffing,” said Yaguchi. “Our traffic team used to be a four-person team; it’s currently a two-person team.” The 24th Precinct has about 140 officers, including 35 new cops added to its headcount in the past year, he said, adding that regular patrol officers “also enforce the traffic rules.”
Zuber said his precinct has a one-person traffic team, down from six designated officers a few years ago. About 127 officers work at the 2-0, a headcount he says is “down by 40” from when he arrived in early 2020.
And there’s another big reason, they say, for the reduction: NYPD’s current traffic philosophy and modus operandi.
“The numbers are brought up, but our goal is not to write more summonses than we did last year or two years ago. But it’s basically to try to make the streets safer,” said Yaguchi. “Just like with crime, where we want to put our cops where the crime is happening, we want to focus our enforcement efforts where the accidents are happening.”
“We’ve gone away from raw numbers and towards surgical precision policing,” said Zuber, citing multiple enforcement pushes along the problematic Amsterdam Avenue corridor.
But without the negative reinforcement of tickets to change reckless driving behavior, won’t offenders feel emboldened to continue, putting residents at increased risk?
“We’re not in the business of punishing; we’re in the business of enforcing,” said Zuber, indicating he believes the New York legislature’s recent passage of the Driver’s License Suspension Reform Act has made traffic summonses essentially toothless.
“In the past, if you wrote a summons, that person would have to appear in court – if they wanted to contest it – or had to pay the fine. If they didn’t do one or the other, their license would be suspended,” said Zuber. “Albany has done away with that. There is no ramification. There is no incentive to follow the law.”
The next 24th Precinct Community Council meeting will be March 16th at the Bloomingdale Library, 150 W. 100th Street, at 7:00 p.m. The next 20th Precinct meeting will be March 24th at the station house,120 W. 82nd Street, at 7:00 p.m.