By Daniel Katzive
Crime rates have risen in the precincts on the Upper West Side as is the case in most areas in the city. While the after effects of the pandemic are part of the story, the commanding officers (COs) of the two precincts covering the Upper West Side and of the Central Park precinct also emphasized recent changes in criminal justice legislation and shortages of manpower as factors impacting their ability to keep the neighborhood safe.
Captain Neil Zuber of the 20th Precinct, Deputy Inspector Naoki Yaguchi of the 24th Precinct, and Deputy Inspector William Gallagher of the Central Park Precinct addressed an online forum sponsored by the UWS Coalition of Block Associations and Community Groups via YouTube on Thursday evening.
Captain Zuber emphasized in his opening remarks that the Upper West Side remains a safe neighborhood relative to other parts of New York City, but that crime has risen from the very low levels enjoyed a few years ago, and that the police face challenges in confronting the rise.
“We are facing shortages within our ranks, and we are facing shortages of will to actually do what is necessary to combat crime,” said Captain Zuber, noting that while arrests have risen even with fewer officers in the precinct, “more and more often the prosecution to keep these people off the street is not there”.
Inspector Yaguchi concurred, noting that “we keep seeing the same names over and over,” and that it takes a number of arrests before individuals face jail time.
Inspector Gallagher spoke in favor of changes to bail laws which would allow judges to evaluate a suspect’s danger to the community and flight risk in making bail determinations. He indicated his view was that laws needed to change to ensure more accountability.
The availability and flow of guns into the city was another concern raised in the meeting. Inspector Yaguchi emphasized that the vast majority of robberies on the West Side do not involve a firearm, and that gun arrests often involved a relatively small group of repeat offenders with access to guns.
Captain Zuber noted that in the seven years prior to 2020 there was not one summary [without a warrant] arrest of a person for gun possession in the 20th precinct, but that in 2021 officers had made 14 such arrests in the precinct, and last month had made three. He emphasized that New York has strict gun laws and that police are enforcing those laws, but that prosecutions often did not follow.
In response to questions about groups of illegal ATVs and dirt bikes riding in packs, the COs emphasized that while officers will rarely chase or directly confront these groups, there are efforts underway behind the scenes to identify riders of illegal vehicles and confiscate them whenever possible. Participants also expressed concerns about bicycles being ridden on sidewalks and in the wrong direction in bike lanes.
Overall, the message from the Coalition members was of appreciation for the police and even complaints about parking in front of the 20th Precinct were delivered lightly.
Representatives wanted to know what they could do to help police keep the neighborhood safe. The COs emphasized the need to keep lines of communication open, noting that they have learned a lot from community forums. They said community members should not hesitate to call 911 if they see a crime occurring. And they suggested members of the community concerned about crime should also stay informed on political matters and hold politicians accountable for legislation.
You can watch the forum here. (Starts around minute 8:10)
Why can’t cops stop the dirt bike riders?
Yes, let’s hold our politicians accountable instead of patrolling the streets and doing what can be done immediately to address these quality of life issues. It’s the politicians, afterall, who have near endless budgets and resources to police the streets, and protect and serve the community, right?
I find it difficult to believe that there is a shortage of police officers when we constantly see clusters of them hanging around, chatting, and playing on their phones. I do belive that there are “shortages of will to actually do what is necessary to combat crime,” though. There’s nothing glamorous about saying hello in the neighborhood, seeing and being seen, making connections with the community, and addressing issues on a daily basis. But that’s what needs to be done.
I recently saw two cars show up to address a noise complaint, and four officers approach the men who were playing loud music out of their car. Talk about overkill! If one or two officers had been walking a beat, they would have heard the music and asked the men to turn it down. Or the men would have known that there are offices present to keep the peace in the neighborhood and wouldn’t have started blasting it in the first place. But instead a simple issue was was immediately escalated. Four officers!
Given the number of NYC cops who have been murdered on the job, it’s not excessive that two patrol cars would show up to check out a noise complaint. Police officers have been shot just investigating minor traffic infringements. Anybody could have a gun. In their place, I’d want backup before dealing with an unknown driver, especially one with a passenger.
Unfortunately, the police are either afraid to do their jobs or, even if they do apprehend a criminal, chances are the DA will do nothing.
Every day I see people jumping the turnstiles @ 72nd Street. Last week someone hopped over right in front of a cop and he did absolutely nothing.
Allegedly “minor” crimes like this are quality of life issues and they send a message that NYC is a lawless city.
What about the many robberies of local businesses and pedestrians that we constantly hear about from the Rag? I don’t see any mention of that in this meeting.
Stop voting in DA’s who won’t enforce the law and politicians who are fine with this reckless behavior.
Hopefully this comment will be shown.
Wow this is amazing…after months and months they are finally admitting that crime is OUT OF CONTROL and that the bail reform DOES NOT WORK and has crippled their ability to keep our streets safe from dangerous criminals. I hope all of my sane and logical neighbors see this and feel validated and I hope the extreme leftists will read this and take it seriously and give up their delusions about how “safe” things are so we can all work together to protect each other (every person that lives here on the UWS — not just the “wealthy elite”) as everyone in this community deserves to live in peace and safety.
Can the 24th please do something about the homeless man that has lived in the 103 station for the last year. Found either on he bench or at the bottom of the first stairway NE corner harassing people for money.
Is the mayor serious about the homeless? This man has been there every day and night for over a year.
Anyone who did not see this result coming from a mile away as soon as we had the “bail reform” laws coupled with defunding the NYPD to the tune of $2Bn coupled with general hostility from elected officials towards law enforcement was incredibly short sighted. Which apparently includes nearly all of our elected politicians. Where accountability falls, crime rises.
Thanks to WSR for this summary and to NYPD for their efforts. The vast majority of them are good people trying to keep us safe, so don’t let a few bad apples ruin your opinion of them.
There are several issues. First, judges should be enabled to have more flexibility on bail decisions. Second, the time between setting bail and the actual trials needs to be reduced, so that bail becomes less of an issues. Hire more judges.
Finally, sentencing needs to consider recidivism – even if each crime is small, someone who has been found guilty of multiple crimes should receive harsher sentencing, rather than being tried like a first time offender of a minor crime.
Agree completely with Leon about recidivism. Why is there no common sense about repeat crimes?
“there are efforts underway behind the scenes to identify riders of illegal vehicles and confiscate them whenever possible. ”
I doubt the NYPD has taken the obvious route: rent or buy a sports still camera and a good fast zoom lens. These cameras, there are only 3-4, have staggeringly good auto focus with tracking, and all are very good in low light.
Real photos would help ID these jerks.
Also, by not enforcing the law against small unlicensed petrol scooters (which are just small motorcycles) the NYPD is encouraging these packs, which some times include small scooters — both e and petrol
Get a pickup truck, ride around the borough, and put every illegally unlicensed motorbike that’s parked on a street or sidewalk in the flatbed. Hold it until the owner shows up with plates, insurance card, and a check for the fine, the tow, and the impoundment.
They are already doing that.
Restaurant owners/workers would object, since many of them now use illegal gasoline powered scooters for deliveries, and then illegally park them on sidewalks.
Yes, I’ve seen these small gasoline motorcycles in some of these packs. See e-scooters too.
Do you know how powerful the restaurant industry is in this city? That’s like kicking a hornets nest.
But that makes too much sense!
Why dont they just box them in? When they know a group is roaring up Amsterdam, especially at night, plant a handful of patrol cars on the side streets. When they enter the box, the patrol cars block the street and sidewalk in front and behind and then arrest and confiscate. Stop making uft so hard. Their “behind the scenes” obviously is not working at all.
Take pictures of what? I’m sure you have noticed that the vast majority of these scooters have no license plates. And you will notice that the operators have figured out how to evade photos. They wear masks, sunglasses, and headgear so you can’t see much in the way of features.
Why do the police show “lack of will” around running lights?
Aren’t there still loud music ordinances?
Why did we remove the “no honking $200 fine” signs?
Why are we going backward?
Traffic tickets are not glamorous. It’s not macho and exciting to write a ticket.
As long as NYC is a one party city and there is no chance of Republicans winning, Democrats will naturally serve special interest groups with deep pockets instead of everyday people.
Exactly – Once a city loses it’s checks & balances (which covers both parties) it heads down hill. Look at LA and CA; absolute power corrupts.
They really need to get to their jobs the crime on the uws is really bad. I can’t even go into my building without having to step over them to get into my building and if you say something they get aggressive. I feel like it not safe to live in the city any longer
I would like all UWSers who see an officer ignore a crime to get their phone out and snap the officer’s picture, then write to the precinct commander in question with the photo and a description of the crime ignored. We the citizens must hold our police accountable. And wouldn’t it be nice if these three commanders had a way for the public to communicate with them on a daily basis? Have you ever tried reaching one of these precincts on the phone? Lol bitter laugh.
The number one rule in police departments is never to embarrass a fellow officer. The precinct commanders quoted in this article have followed this rule by not assigning any blame to themselves or their precincts. Their jobs and status are safe.
And god forbid a police officer or a dozen officers should ever “confront” a pack of riders of illegal ATVs on Broadway, Columbus, or Riverside Drive! Who do they think they are to do such a thing — the police?
These comments are amazing. I hope the captains read them. Regular people are so fed up! Better yet, I hope the politicians read them. Thank you WSR.
ha ha. I am thinking back to summmer 2020 – rented a car and made a left turn on CPW and 96th street – not knowing noticing since the last time I drove that there was a no left turn sign. Within 10 seconds police were on me – and told me there is a “no tolerance policy” and ticket issued – fine and dandy if it extended to the no license plate, illegal bikes, fare evaders, shoplifters – apparently not.
The police cannot fail, they can only be failed
It’s true that the politicians have changed the playing field for officers and it’s more difficult because of the change in immunity (which isn’t raised here). It’s also true they prosecution has changed. However the police in the 20th have also changed. I have had three interactions where they gave me wrong information in trying to deal with situations. They arrived en force at our home because they thought someone was being stabbed at 2:30am though nothing was going on and never apologized for the disruption or even told us why they insisted coming in guns blazing. And on 82nd street they have only recently removed the ridiculous parking across from the precinct but made permanent the perpendicular parking in front of the precinct because they fear they are under constant attack. The culture shift is deplorable and make me not want them in my community. I don’t blame people for not wanting to be an officer. I attribute it to poor leadership, a culture of fear and changes in policing laws. Why would anyone want that job right now?