BY ANGELA MATUA
Deputy Inspector Jeffrey Schiff, commanding officer of the 106th Precinct, directly addressed a controversial dispute between his precinct and an organization called the Howard Beach Civilian Observation Patrol (HBCOP) at Wednesday’s 106th Precinct Community Council meeting in Ozone Park.
HBCOP describes itself as “a civilian neighborhood watch program involving responsible civilians who volunteer to act as the eyes and ears of the police department,” according to its Facebook page. Some of HBCOP’s members claimed they applied with the NYPD to receive an official police department COP certification, which allows community members to act as watchdogs.
According to Facebook posts by its president Joseph Thompson, HBCOP submitted the paperwork to enroll in this program and posted emails he exchanged with Community Affairs Officer Brenda Reddick on the organization’s Facebook page as proof.
But according to the emails, which contained the words “citizens police academy” in the subject line, Thompson actually asked to be enrolled in the Citizens Police Academy program, which is a separate 14-week program meant to “provide training in the legal, social and procedural aspects of policing.”
“We told this individual what is to be expected from the civilian observation patrol and what is to be submitted to us,” Schiff said. “To this day, we have not received a single application to the COP [program]. It hasn’t been done.”
The patrol also had problems with police, according to published reports, after it spread misinformation about a recent burglary at a KFC on Cross Bay Boulevard, claiming that employees were tied up by suspects during a robbery.
The crime, police noted, was actually a late-night burglary while the KFC was closed; no employees were at the scene at that time.
In other news, Schiff reported that crime is slightly up in the precinct, which covers Ozone Park, South Ozone Park, Lindenwood and Howard Beach. Auto theft is a problem that has plagued the precinct and Schiff said several arrests of suspected car thieves were recently made.
Robberies, he said, have been a multi-precinct problem, with the neighboring 102nd and 113th precincts sharing the burden. Schiff said the precincts have worked together to come up with a coordinated strategy and that it seems to be working. This month, 21 robbery arrests have been made.
Identity theft is also a problem in the district, and officers have pushed an awareness campaign to inform residents how to avoid having their identity stolen.
In advance of the Fourth of July, officers are also executing an initiative to confiscate fireworks. Officers said 99-cent stores and other businesses sometimes sell fireworks on the side and that there will be a zero-tolerance policy for anyone found with them.
The NYPD also offers a reward to anyone who provides information regarding the illegal sale, distribution or use of fireworks.
P.O. Michael Sardone was honored as Cop of the Month for apprehending two individuals on April 5 who tried robbing someone at knife point along Liberty Avenue. Sardone, along with other officers, canvassed the area, and Sardone was able to secure the knife and make the arrests.