Tag Archives: neighborhood watch

Howard Beach residents to start neighborhood watch group


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Image Courtesy of Joe Thompson

BY SALVATORE LICATA

Howard Beach is hoping to add a few more sets of eyes and ears to its streets in hopes of preventing crime.

The Howard Beach Civilian Observation Patrol, is a soon-to-be nonprofit group of residents that will be keeping a watchful eye on the neighborhood. In an effort to keep crime down, volunteers of the group will patrol the neighborhood and report to the police any suspicious activity that may be going on.

“Howard Beach residents are screaming for assistance,” Joe Thompson, president and founder of the organization, said. “We are going to be the eyes and ears of the neighborhood and it is up to us as a community to report any crimes.”

Thompson said he decided to start the patrol group after hearing resident’s concerns at community meetings.

Crime is down slightly so far this year in the 106th Precinct, but a recent rash of burglaries in Howard Beach set off fears in the community.

Thompson has over 30 years of experience in community watch groups and was an auxiliary police officer for 10 years. He said he hopes this group will help to prevent crime from happening but also noted that his patrol units will take no physical action if they see suspicious activity.

“We will have uniforms but no weapons at all,” Thompson said. “We will not take any action against criminals, our job is to just report what we see to the police. We don’t want to be seen as vigilantes.”

Thompson said he has met with the 106th Precinct and government officials and has their okay to go along with the program as long as the group goes through the proper training and follows the guidelines of community watch groups, as stated by the community affairs office of the NYPD.

“We are always looking for people to get involved,” said Kenneth Zorn, the community affairs officer for the 106th Precinct. “It is a large commitment but these people volunteer their time to help improve the quality of life for the community.”

State Sen. Joseph Addabbo also offered his support to Thompson – but not without some concern.

“We must make it very clear that volunteers must go through the proper training before they patrol,” Addabbo said. “But if it is done correctly it is a positive community program.”

The Howard Beach Civilian Observation Patrol will hold their first meeting/recruitment session on June 24 at 7:30 p.m. in St. Helen’s School at 157-10 83rd St.

Thompson hopes to gain support for his initiative with other residents at the meeting.

For more information follow Thompson via Twitter @HowardBeachCOP.

 

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Woodhaven looks to resurrect civilian patrol organization


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Frank Kotnik

Woodhaven leaders are seriously considering resurrecting the more-than-a-decade defunct civilian patrol to respond to recent crimes in the neighborhood.

Members of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) recently met with Assemblymember Mike Miller and members of the Glendale Civilian Operational Patrol (GCOP) to discuss how to start the neighborhood watch. And in a town hall meeting last week, WRBA members took a poll of attendees to gauge the interest, to which there were nearly a dozen responders.

“We want safer streets, we want to improve the quality of life in our community and we want our residents to feel empowered,” said Ed Wendell, president of the WRBA.

Wendell said talks about the patrol heated up after a man attempted to rape a woman in Forest Park a few months ago, but then more crimes followed. Last month a teenage girl was stabbed in Woodhaven nearly a dozen times and a few weeks ago a wife was arrested for allegedly killing her husband by smashing her car after he clung to the hood. Also, a girl was robbed recently in the area.

“We are not just sitting back and letting things happen,” Wendell said. “We are going to be a force in our future.”

There are no statistics that show whether neighborhood watch groups actually lower or prevent crime, but the precincts appreciate their help, according to an NYPD representative.

The new patrol will work together with GCOP, as Woodhaven wants to model their program on them. GCOP has been operating since 1976 and currently has about 56 active members.

GCOP will lend equipment, such as radios, reflective vests and flashlights, to the patrol once it is established. Members of the Glendale Patrol will also train new Woodhaven volunteers on how to spot suspicious activity and to be extra “eyes and ears” for the NYPD as opposed to vigilantes.

“When I got involved 25 years ago, no one lent us a hand,” said Frank Kotnik, president of GCOP. “They will not be out there by themselves.”

Miller, who was a member of GCOP for more than 16 years, said he would be willing to help collect funding for the group once the patrol becomes established.

“I always felt I was doing something significant for the community,” Miller said. “It is a good feeling and once you become a part of it you want to do more.”

Before the group can get started Woodhaven needs to collect dedicated members and address concerns, such as transportation and donations. They will also meet with GCOP again and the 102nd Precinct.

 

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Neighborhood watch proposed in 111th Precinct


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A surge in burglaries has officers in the 111th Precinct placing the call out for residents interested in starting up a neighborhood watch program.

The precinct has seen burglaries spike to 20 in a one-week period, as compared to two the 111th reported last year, according to Community Affairs Officer Bill Conway.

Homes between Northern Boulevard and the Long Island Expressway have been recently targeted, Conway said, due to their prime locations close to nearby highways. The precinct also suspects a professional crew behind the pattern of law-breaking that they say takes place in under five minutes.

Now the Bayside-based precinct is in talks to start up a civilian-based patrol, similar to those that already exist in Astoria and Glendale, to thwart the crimes.

“This is something we’ve been toying around with for a while,” Conway said. “They would be extra eyes and ears out on the street, keeping burglaries and other crimes down.”

The precinct has been participating in a block watchers program for several years, Conway said, but volunteers do not patrol in groups. Those part of the neighborhood watch would be more active and visible, he said.

“The burglars don’t want to be seen, so when they see a group of people wearing a uniform, the same shirts or caps, they move on,” said Conway.

Jack Fried, president of the precinct’s Community Council, pointed to the success of other neighborhood watches in the city and said volunteers would not be asked to be vigilantes.

“They’re not there to run after a criminal or block someone from trying to get into a house,” he said. “A police officer can’t be on every block in every neighborhood 24 hours a day, so these volunteers do that for them.”

Councilmember Peter Vallone lauded the efforts of volunteer watchdogs within the 114th Precinct, where civilian patrols began in early June, but said spikes in citywide crime can only be cut down with more police presence.

“Block watchers are absolutely helpful, but they do not take the place of police in any way,” he said.

Interested volunteers are asked to call Conway at 718-279-5295.

“There’s no doubt in my mind people will step up,” said Community Board 11 Chair Jerry Iannece. “It’s neighbors helping neighbors.”

This Morning’s Headlines


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

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Mets owners could actually make money in Madoff settlement

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Rangers edge Devils, clinch playoff spot in East

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3 wounded in Harlem shooting

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NYPD Ups Security In Wake Of Jewish School Shooting In France

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Queens’ Morning Roundup – 11/22/2011: Doctor Is Accused of Selling Prescriptions


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Doctor Is Accused of Selling Prescriptions

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