Posted by: vote4claxton | March 26, 2009




Some tension at police meeting

by Junior Lops

Chronicle Contributor

Only a handful of people came out to the March meeting of Operation Safe Southeast Queens. The announcement of the new members of the Youth Committee and precinct updates were among the main topics of discussion at Thomasina’s Catering Hall on Linden Boulevard.

Meetings like this one give residents the chance to speak to law enforcement and politicians on issues concerning them. It’s the time for anyone with complaints and concerns to have their voices heard.

The meeting started off with the announcement of the new members of the Youth Committee. According to Katharine Pichardo, Operation Safe’s director of district office operations, the Youth Committee was formed to plan events, programs and projects to improve safety in the community by involving young people.

“Their first program will be in collaboration with Marquez Claxton of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care at Campus Magnet High School,” Pichardo said. “They will be doing a workshop on gang prevention, and there will be other events to continue the dialogue between the youth and police.”

The discussion of the Youth Committee was just the calm before the storm. Tension started to rise when the lieutenants approached the crowd to give the police update. Residents of southeastern Queens were upset Precinct 113 was not represented, as they had multiple questions about an alleged police harassment case.

Lieutenants from Precincts 103 and 105 were present at the meeting, and both told residents their neighborhoods have become safer since the gun buy-back program held Feb. 21. The event allowed police to collect 919 guns off the streets. According to Lt. Mathew Paules of Precinct 105, the total number of felonies in his precinct that week was 29, fewer than last year.

Some residents weren’t satisfied with the report the officers shared, however. Community members like Chris Stewart, 50, of Queens Village remain unhappy with the behavior of police officers. According to Stewart, he was pulled over and told to step out of the car without being asked for license or registration.

“When I got out of the vehicle, the cop put me up against my car, and started putting his hands in my pants and started feeling around my genitals,” Stewart said. “I felt humiliated.”

Paules said the NYPD is concerned with community relations and runs a program so residents can meet police. “The officer must be familiar with the people he is supposed to protect.” The program — held once a year — is supposed to reduce the amount of people wrongfully targeted by cops. But many residents were skeptical.

By the end of the night, however, they and the lieutenants had smoothed things out. People exchanged numbers, and smiles were seen on some faces. “The meeting went extremely well,” said Sugar Wright, 50, of Jamaica. “This was the first meeting that I have gone too, and things were handled in a proper manner.” ©Queens Chronicle 2009


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