CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, OR LACK THEREOF

Sunflowers - check, Pepsi Bottle - check, temporary lighting - check, ...wait, is that a UFO?

Sunflowers – check, Pepsi Bottle – check, temporary lighting – check, …wait, is that a UFO?

Last night there was a Community Safety meeting held in light of the alleged rape/assault in Gantry Park recently, and here’s the big non-revelatory news that was delivered by Captain John Travaglia, head of the 108th Precinct: the Hunters Point sub-district is one of the safest sections in NYC, if not the country, if not the planet.  More specifically, there is minimal serious crime, as measured by felonies, that has occurred here in recent years, and even less street crime1 – roughly described as that which doesn’t occur behind closed doors.  Like I said, this should be non-revelatory to anyone who lives in HP.

As for the alleged incident in Gantry Park, Captain Travaglia stated that to date no victim has come forward.  Furthermore, despite cutting back the grasses near the red Adirondack chairs and searching the area, the sole evidence they have is what’s been said on social media, implying that no other witnesses have filed reports/been found.

Ok, there’s not much to go on, which probably and sadly is the case with many alleged sexual assaults. And if as described this incident did occur, it sounds more like a one-off between two individuals who may have been acquainted with each other, rather than one of an endemic or sweeping crime problem in LIC as a whole (net of the ensuing fury and fusillade unleashed on social media).  Yet here’s where the story gets interesting, and troublesome.

The woman who made the allegation and posted about the incident on Facebook was in attendance, came up to the audience microphone used for Q&A, and related her saga of what transpired.  Specifically, how she was treated with indifference and pretty much turned away by whomever was at the precinct the night that it occurred.  Does this sound familiar? It should, as it’s exactly what happened a year ago, which was the last time someone was seriously attacked and hurt in the in the vicinity of Gantry Park.  In that case it was a dog mauling an 8-year old girl, whose severe injuries were vicious and indisputable, yet whose parents received a very cold shoulder from the 108th Precinct.

Thus the question I ask is this: since Hunters Point has so little violent crime, shouldn’t the few alarming allegations and actual attacks that do come directly into the station house be treated with care, compassion, and gravity?

Disappointingly, the answer to this was not very clear.  While the Captain stated that he tells the front line people he oversees to treat anyone who comes in with a complaint like valued “customers,” he also said the best course of action if someone sees or is a victim of serious crime, is to call 911.  That goes for the State Police and their jurisdiction as well.

While they outlined the logic of this action and it makes sense23, it’s not unusual for people to not act logically on the ultra-rare occasions when confronted with violent crime.  As a second measure, walking into the precinct house should not be viewed as the action of a hysterical complainer.

Furthermore, in circumstances like this sometimes people want to talk to a real person instead of playing 911 roulette.  We recognize that the 108th Precinct has a lot more going on than the needs of Hunters Point, but there has to be some middle ground between how it currently interacts with the people in its immediate vicinity and life in Mayberry.

//As for the rest of the meeting, Leslie Wright the regional director for NYS Parks, told the crowd that since the incident they’ve cut back all the tall grass near the red chairs, taken inventory on all non-working lighting in Gantry Park and ordered replacements, and have installed temporary lighting until it arrives.

Then as to be expected at an event like this, came the kvetchers and their long line of grievances about the oversight of the park: noise, rowdiness, late nights, speeding on Center Boulevard, petty crime, and of course the everlasting dog issue.  While my insouciance towards this part of the evening led to my early departure, I do recognize the need for a little squeaky-wheeling to keep things in line.  Though I was amused by the Hunters Point South resident peeved about how the crowds in the park and their behavior have changed dramatically since she first moved into the neighborhood eight months ago – the dead of winter.

As most of us know, that’s the minor side effect of living at the front door of one of the greatest – and let’s face it safest, urban parks in the world.  Everyone wants to visit here when the weather is nice, and with that comes a few infractions.  Not to fret, after Labor Day we pretty much get it back for ourselves.  In the meantime, if you have any problems, just call 911.

// Happy Birthday Jimmy Van Bramer! Come and get down with the hardest working man in politics as he celebrates his 47th birthday with a free community event tonight at 7pm at Shi Restaurant

Shooting Outside Dutch Kills Strip Clubwant to avoid violent crime?  Don’t go to strip clubs in LIC after midnight

John Brown’s Smoke House Proprietor Previewing New Restaurant at Local EventTexas-Meets-Queens barbecue restaurant Mothership Meat Company

Pre-Opening Dinner Tickets for Above HereBrisket with garam masala pepper rub, Astoria Special Short Rib pastrami, Yuzu Smoked Duck, Smoked Whole Hog

Queens First Chick-fil-A Will Open September 1but not in LIC

  1. basically a few stolen cars and DWI’s []
  2. basically every call to 911 goes on file and generates a tracking number with the time of the call, obligating the police to respond w/ an appropriate action.  It also gets tallied in terms of crime statistics for the neighborhood, and leads to action, such as increased police presence in a given area, over a given period []
  3. Also a personal anecdote about 911 in Hunters Point: several years ago I saw a group of high school kids fighting in Gantry Park and called 911.  Within 5 minutes the NYPD had a squad car cruising along the Gantry boardwalk, jurisdiction notwithstanding, and it had the intended affect as the kids quickly broke up []
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8 thoughts on “CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, OR LACK THEREOF

  1. Paul K says:

    I was in attendance and was pleased that such a community gathering did take place. There seemed to be a wide disconnect between residents who claim to see everything from crack dealing to drag racing and law enforcement who claim to be a constant presence and are unaware of those claims. It seems not only the events of the alleged sexual assault are still in question, but so is exactly how the witness was received in person by the 108 Precinct. I don’t think the outdated precinct building and affiliated cars parked on sidewalks make a good impression. And I couldn’t believe how many crying babies and toddlers were brought to an event for a mature, serious discussion. I hope the community continues to work together to ensure a lively, safe park and neighborhood environment.

    • Megan says:

      What do you expect residents with babies and toddlers to do, just stay home so their kids don’t bother you? Not everyone can afford to hire help to attend these things.

      • Paul K says:

        Did you attend the meeting? I wasn’t the only one who felt that a serious discussion among 100+ adults was disturbed by children whose parents couldn’t or wouldn’t control to a respectful silence.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Great points Paul! I’ve been noticing many more homeless recently and have had very little luck reporting this to the 108th precinct. Unfortunately, they are not particularly responsive. Any suggestions of where the best place is to report any kind of homeless issue?

    • Anonymous says:

      I have noticed this too. In fact a few weeks ago there was an inebriated man in Andrews Grove Park where my children were playing. He didn’t look homeless but at one point urinated behind a tree. I went over to the 108th station to complain – and they were BEYOND rude to me. They said they couldn’t do anything and that I needed to call 911. He said they can’t send anyone over there unless they get dispatched by 911 – even though everyone I walk by the station there is always 1 or more cops just hanging out on the steps. This happened around 3:30 and I did call 911 to report it. I got a call that night around 8 PM that the cops were there at the park. So ridiculous!

      • Anonymous says:

        Perhaps after the next mayoral election, we will have city leadership that a) acknowledges that the homeless problem is out of control, and b) doesn’t tie the Police Dept.’s hands on this and other quality of life issues. As a 35+ year resident of NYC, I can attest that the hard-fought gains of two administrations in making this city a more pleasant place to live are evaporating. You can also thank a City Council that recently decriminalized things like public urination and lurking in the parks after hours. Surprise, surprise – what do you get? People peeing in the streets and hanging out in the parks at night. And, keep calling 911! It’s the only way to get these incidents officially recorded and counted in the city’s statistics. Otherwise, it’s as if it never happened.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thank you guys for your replies. I agree 100%! We need to keep calling. Its just amazing to me, that the 108th can’t handle these simple requests. It’s not like there is a lot of crime in our area for them to take care of. The decriminalization of “lifestyle” crimes is horrendous for our city.

    • Anonymous says:

      Seriously! The thing that bothered me the most about them shooing me off and telling me to call 911 was that there were two cops just hanging out on the front steps at the time – they clearly weren’t busy and could see the park/this man from their back door but wouldn’t go over to check it out unless dispatched. I was furious!

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