Tag Archives: g-cop

City green spaces to get more staff


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

Juniper Valley Park is just one green space in the borough that will soon get more supervision. The City’s Parks Department is significantly increasing its staff to include 81 new Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP) officers who will protect park rules and assets in Queens and the rest of the city. The new hires will also include 207 city park workers, 96 maintenance and trade workers and 30 climbers and pruners to preserve trees, according to a Parks spokesperson.

The plans received a warm welcome in the southwest community, where many say that their parks, especially Juniper Valley, need extra eyes.

“It’s long overdue,” said Frank Kotnik, president of the 104th Precinct’s Glendale Civilian Observation Patrol (G-COP).

Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, said that Juniper Valley Park had “a tenth of the officers that they’ve needed” in the past.

“Any investment in PEP officers is a good investment,” he said. “There’s vandalism in the park, people who don’t respect park regulations. The cops are spread so thinly at this point that they really can’t handle all of the park’s complaints.”

The Parks spokesperson attributed the shortage of PEP officers to the fiscal crisis, As a result, the workforce has not kept pace with its growing infrastructure, the representative added.

The Parks Department said 12 PEP officers and six Urban Park Rangers currently patrol Queens parks, adding that its 2014 budget allows for the additional staffing that will be spread throughout the city.

The specific number of officers coming to Queens this summer is not yet known.
Holden said that however many officers are coming, the community “needs them working,” especially on off-hours such as nights and weekends.

“In Juniper, there are 10 times as many people there on the weekends. If there are no officers, it’s almost a free-for-all,” he said. “We have picnics going on, and people driving through on [illegal] four wheelers.”

“It has been difficult to get an officer there during the evening or on the weekends when the parks really need to be protected,” he added.

When Holden heard complaints in the past, he used his own police connections to attempt to get an officer to the park.

He hopes Juniper Valley Park will see an increase in patrol staff to help alleviate the problems.

“PEP officers are certainly welcome,” he said. “But we need to know where they are going to be deployed. It’s great news, but I’m not going to jump up and down with joy.”

 

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Glendale Civilian Observation Patrol looking for a few good men


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Maggie Hayes

The Glendale Civilian Observation Patrol (G-COP) has served as the “extended eyes and ears” of the NYPD for over 30 years — and they want you to help keep their mission alive.

“We don’t complain about crime, we do something about it,” said Frank Kotnik, G-COP president.
In the late 1990s, the volunteer group was asked to expand and help patrol within the confines of the 104th Precinct, and have since performed regular checks throughout Maspeth, Ridgewood, Middle Village and Glendale. They use their own vehicles, and two to three times a week send out three to four cars, with two people in each car.

“[G-COP is] essential to us,” said Officer Thomas Bell of the 104th Precinct. “They deeply care about the community that they serve.”

Currently, the group has 50 active members, but Kotnik has dreams of growing to 150 reliable, dedicated patrollers.

“People want to join something that is proactive, not stagnant,” said the longtime president. “That’s what we are — we’re leading with example, we’re getting out there.”

Founded in 1976, G-COP’s structure and loyal members have made the group strong enough to withstand the test of time.

“You get out of something what you put into it,” said Kotnik. “And I think there are a lot more able-bodied men and women that could step up to the plate.”

Mainly, G-COP takes direction from the 104th Precinct and does everything from checking out suspicious scenes to directing traffic during a parade. Kotnik recalled various incidents in which they helped aid lost children and women in distress, and locked up graffiti vandals.

Although patrols are typically only a few times a week, if “necessary, they’ll be out every day,” according to Kotnik. Most recently, during Sandy, members of G-COP had a constant presence both within the community and in the disaster-stricken areas of south Queens. They worked around the clock, cleaning up their local area, and busing truckloads of essential items down to the storm victims.
Since the storm has passed, Kotnik and his group have returned to regular patrols, and creating a sense of safety within the community.

“The more volunteers, the merrier,” said Bell. “They’re definitely eyes out there. They’re always quick to respond, to lend a hand.”

The NYPD is waiting for end-of-year reports to come out that will detail crime statistics within each precinct, but Bell said that G-COP is an important addition in controlling various situations.

Ideally, Kotnik hopes to grow to more frequent patrols and expand their presence even further. To join, applicants must live within the 104th Precinct and be at least 18 years of age. Applications can be obtained on the group’s website, g-cop.org, or by going to the monthly meeting, held the second Thursday of each month at the St. Pancras School in Glendale at 8 p.m. G-COP hopefuls will then be subjected to background checks.

“These people come from all walks of life, we welcome everybody,” said Kotnik.

 

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