When City Council Speaker Christine Quinn visited with members of Community Board 13 last week, one issue came to the fore right away: safety.
“It has been a number one issue with regards to this board. We’ve had an increase in shootings. This board and this community feel that we need an additional precinct,” said Bryan J. Block, CB 13 chair.
Community members echoed his request, complaining that the current response time from officers of the local 105th Precinct is “atrocious.”
Lawrence McClean, district manager of CB 13, pointed out that the board, which includes more than 10 neighborhoods, spans 13 square miles and makes up 12 percent of the entire borough of Queens. Hence, he said, “the problem affecting police response time is the size of the district.”
In addition, McClean speculated that the slow response time of police officers in the area could be due to traffic buildup on the Cross Island Parkway.
Community members implored Quinn to support their request for an additional precinct because it would “help protect the community better.”
“In the scheme of the city’s capital budget, we could find money to build a new precinct,” Quinn said in reply. “However, the challenge is getting the officers to staff that precinct.”
She emphasized that there is a shortage of New York City police officers right now and said, “We are in a position, unfortunately, where we are at a much lower patrol strength than we were at our all time high right after the Safe Streets, Safe City program was put in place.”
But Deputy Inspector Joseph G. Courtesis, commanding officer of the 105th Precinct, told The Courier that, despite being the largest precinct, the 105’s response times are better than both the city and borough average, due in part to a satellite precinct.
“We do have a satellite precinct down that way,” he said. “The only difference is that there’s no administrative staff at the satellite. Officers do start and end their tours there. The community at the south end is definitely getting the same service that the north end does. We are the largest precinct, but our response times are better than the city and borough average, so the satellite is working.”
In addition to requesting another precinct, the members of CB 13 had other complaints. They voiced concerns over the threat food carts pose to small businesses in the area, complained about the presence of pawn shops and gaming cafes, and one official expressed her concern over the long hours bodegas stay open.
“I can’t see the reason for them [bodegas],” said Assemblymember Barbara Clark. “They’re the most awful looking businesses. They cause young people to congregate, and they also sell loose cigarettes.”
Quinn said that the council might be able to address these problems from the perspective of consumer affairs and zoning.