Posted by: vote4claxton | November 20, 2008


Southeast Queens wants more police in the area
<B>Southeast Queens residents are worried that the show of police presence, like this one in August, have decreased too much in their neighborhoods. <I>(file photo)
Southeast Queens residents are worried that the show of police presence, like this one in August, have decreased too much in their neighborhoods. (file photo)
   After months of concern, southeast Queens residents are making their voices heard about the police presence in their neighborhoods, and many feel the city isn’t doing enough to make them safer.
   The number of police in the area has always been an issue in southeast Queens, which is patrolled by three New York City precincts: the 103rd, 113th, and 105th.
   Over the summer, police presence in the area was given a shot in the arm, as a string of sexual assault cases seemed to terrorize residents on a weekly basis.
   But after months without charges being filed, some residents are afraid that police in the area have put the capture of the Queens rapists on the back of their to-do lists.
   The fear has led to others — namely that the entirety of southeast Queens is getting the short end of the stick when it comes to law enforcement, and some local leaders are not thrilled about it.
   Marquez Claxton, one of the founding members of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care, said he’s been alarmed by what he perceives as a lack of police presence in many areas.
   “It appears to me that in large part, all that show of police in the area has now subsided, and it’s back to business as usual as though nothing has occurred,” he said. “You can go [somewhere] any evening, and there are no police around. I go every night; there just are no extra patrols.”
   Richard Hellenbrecht, chairman of Community Board 13, said he thinks the sexual assault task force is still very much active in the community, though it might not be readily apparent to everyone in the area.
   “I believe that there are still some fairly significant remnants of that task force still in operations out there, in plainclothes or even riding the buses,” Hellenbrecht said, “though it doesn’t seem to be a situation where people are completely secure and feel that way.”
   Donna Clopton, president of the 103rd Precinct Community Council, said that in a recent meeting with Queens Borough Patrol South Asst. Chief Thomas Dale, she was assured the task force is still very much a part of the routine in southeast Queens.
   Clopton said, however, that she thinks an uptick in crime is likely in the area, based on the volatile combination of a department stretched thin and a crumbling economy.
   “I think we’re going to see a surge in things; I just think there’s going to be an upsurge in crime,” she said. “I think it has a lot to do with the economy.”
   Clopton said she also considers many of the criminal elements, at least in her area, to be emboldened by smaller police numbers, as well. She referred to incidents of shots fired in front of officers in certain “high impact” crime areas, as well as people willing to challenge police authority.
   Hellenbrecht said that what is most disconcerting is the fact that while police are saying crime in the area is still low, high-profile crimes — including the recent murder of a 14-year-old in Cambria Heights — are worrying residents.
   “It’s hard to say exactly what’s causing it,” Hellenbrecht said. “There is certainly an effort to try to get the situation under control, but with a reduction in city’s budget I don’t see any real help coming down the line.”
   Claxton said that when it comes to public safety, money should never be an excuse.
   “I know the realities that we have from an economic standpoint, and the manpower issues,” he said. “If they don’t have those numbers, then it’s time for them to reassess how they deploy their resources.”

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