Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. joined self-defense expert Antonio Meloni, Crime Prevention Officer John Glynn of the 114th Precinct, Safe Horizon representatives and auxiliary police at a free self defense and crime prevention seminar in Astoria.
Despite freezing temperatures, over 100 people attended the seminar, held at Immaculate Conception School. Residents were provided with information on how to act when confronted with a criminal at home, on the street or in a vehicle.
“This is a good opportunity to get some safety tips and extra information to be more diligent,” said resident Tara Fay-Reilly.
Meloni advised the women in attendance to not be afraid if they find themselves in a potentially dangerous situation.
“You don’t need to explain yourself to anybody,” said Meloni. “If something happens, it’s ok to be rude. Hurting somebody’s feelings is better than you being hurt.”
Meloni also demonstrated maneuvers to use to safely and properly defend oneself if in an altercation, as well as methods to ward off possible criminals.
“Show people that you’re paying attention,” said Meloni. “If you’re on the subway, just take a glance around when you step in.”
Officer Robles, a member of the auxiliary police, said the group, which consists of volunteers, is a productive way for residents to protect their own community.
“What makes them spectacular is that they’re you, they’re nothing different,” said Robles. “You’re the eyes and ears and you supplement the NYC police department.”
Glynn also provided residents with some local crime statistics and cited burglary as one crime in the area that is preventable.
“More often than not, we’re seeing them come in through a window and exiting through the front door as if they live there,” said Glynn.
Meloni recommended both current and new residents go through a security survey conducted by Glynn. “We don’t’ realize sometimes how vulnerable our homes are,” said Meloni. “What [Glynn] can do is he can come to your home, apartment or business, and do a survey that will tell you where your faults lie.”
If someone is involved in a possible assault, Meloni said it may not always be best to fight back.
“If you’re walking home, and you scream and scare him, you won,” he said. “We want him to get arrested but we don’t want you to be the one who holds him down for us.”
Vallone is currently working with the NYPD and Astoria residents to form a Neighborhood watch program.