CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn [CHI] — Following what had taken place at this month’s precinct council meeting, police officials understood that there is unanswered questions and bad feelings within the Crown Heights Jewish community has, following some serious crime incidents which took place in the past year.
Wednesday afternoon a meeting took place between the police and influential people in the community along with some community leaders, and they discussed the contemporary issues as well as past incidents leading up to the walk out at the Precinct Council Meeting. Also attending the meeting were representatives from the Police Commissioner and the Chief of the Community Affairs Bureau.
More in the Extended Article!
Commanding officer of the 71st Precinct Deputy Inspector Frank Vega opened the meeting by thanking everyone for coming to the meeting and immediately jumped in to the issues at hand, namely the Precinct Council Meeting. Mr. Vega described the meeting as a year end and summery meeting and therefore included his lengthy remarks, he added that this meeting they had cut out the guest speaker and shortened the minutes and treasurers remarks for this reason.
Mr. Vega spoke about the spike in Muggings and Robberies in 2006 but this year we saw a significant reduction in those numbers, he then went on to say that statistics is statistics but we have to look at them not as such, but as people that were victimized and our current 200 plus officers are being trained to behave as such. Mr. Vega went on to say that out of the upcoming police academy graduation we are going to be getting an additional 36 officers and they will need to get ‘warmed up’ to our community and way of life.
Mr. Vega then went back to the meeting and said that it is not a forum for public humiliation and embarrassment, it’s a meeting to hear from the police and at the end of the meeting questions and concerns can be voiced. He added that there had never been major media at such meetings, they are simply not allowed in “it doesn’t make sense for a resident to stand up and complain about drug activity in their hallway and end up on the evening news”. The meetings are closed and private.
He then went on to speak about the incidents which were brought to light by the mailing from Jewish Leadership Council and said that yes mistakes have been made, but Chief Joseph Fox, Commanding officer of the Brooklyn South Task Force was involved and changes have been made. He added that should issues arise where there is a belief that incidents aren’t being handled properly they should be brought up by Community Leaders.
One of the attendees then brought up his issue with the meeting stating that the Inspector should have warned the crowd the nature of the meeting, also being that it was many of the attendees first time at the meeting.
Another attendee raised the thought of police hosting a meeting especially to address the issues of concern that everyone had, which had prompted everyone to attend the meeting. He added that the meeting should be held in a hall in the community such as the one at Lubavitcher Yeshiva, where questions and grievances can be aired and answered properly.
The idea was met with agreement from everyone at the meeting and specifics as to how such a meeting should be held and who should function as a moderator were discussed.
Rabbi Shea Hecht brought attention to the fact that we are all updated on the fact that a crime took place, but we are never made aware of arrests made or cases solved. He brought up the idea of setting up a blotter in the new Crown Heights Newspaper with exactly such information.
Rabbi Hecht then added about the fact that it is such a hassle to fill out police reports, the amount of time it takes is much cheaper to just go and fix a broken car window and swallow the $100 loss and forget about the report. This leads people to believe that this is the reason for the statistics being down.
Mr. Vega responded that filing a report doesn’t always have to be filed right away; if you are in a hurry you can come back later and go down to the station house and fill the roper out there, even after fixing a broken window.
The murder of Reb Ephraim Klien HY”D was brought up, Mr. Vega responded that the 2nd year to his murder is coming up this February and Detective Sullivan is on the case, he said that there were rumors on the street about tips and information, all of which was checked and turned up no more information.
Rabbi Hecht also brought up the idea of putting up cameras around the neighborhood as a way of preventing crime and to help solve crimes once they occur. Mr. Vega said that there are currently a few places around Crown Heights where they employ cameras, but they are not constantly monitored and with the limited resources of the 71st Precinct they would not be able to blanket the community with security cameras.
One of the residences sitting on the meeting brought up the idea of putting up signs on privately owned cameras that they are being monitored by the police, bringing more criminal awareness and prevent crime.
Another attendee mentioned the fact that the Crown Heights Jewish community resides over two precincts, the 71st and the 77th, and when residence talk about the spike in crime they are referring to both precincts and that the stats are intertwined. Mr Vega stated that he speaks with the commanding officer of the 77th Precinct twice a week and he will bring it up with him, and raise the idea of having representatives from the 77th as well as the 71st attend the community meeting.
CrownHeights.info brought up the fact that a lot of times the Police reports are not actually lost, but when a crime victim calls the precinct in order to get their Report Number, they are met by an unsympathetic and lazy person in the Report Room who does not bother nor put in the effort to pull up the police report, a matter which gives people the pretense to thinking that police are hiding and loosing police reports.
Mr. Issac Zellermaier raised the issues of police treatment, when a resident comes in to the precinct and has to wait together with the criminals to speak to speak to Police which gives the feeling that they feel wronged twice, an issues rampant with some of the way police officers treat victims.
Mr. Zellermaier added that sometimes at the scene of incidents emotions flare and confrontations may occur, he brought up the idea of a CPU Card, which essentially would be a business card with a phone number to the Community Policing Unit which they can call and complain or raise an issue they felt the officers weren’t receptive to.
Overall those gathered felt this to be a productive meeting, and expressed their hope that we can overcome the issues and really make Crown Heights a safe neighborhood.