Neene of the Brooklynian.com neighborhood message board has this report from the last meeting of the 77th Precinct Community Council, held on Monday Dec. 12:
The Crown Heights Coalition presented its letter for signatures, this request was strongly backed by the council president, Mr. Caldwell. Given the discussion that followed, the letter was very timely.
Council member Letitia James also addressed the shortage of new rookies and cited the low starting salary as a cause. Her office has gotten a deluge of calls concerning the muggings we are discussing here and she was obviously there to see the precinct and the community's response.
She also stressed the importance of making 311 & 911 calls. She stated that in her bimonthly meetings with Commissioner Kelly, the first thing he does is pull out the stats, if calls are down, it means we don't have a problem, period, end.
She ended her talk with a pledge to work to convert part of the armory on Atlantic & Bedford into a rec center to give youth in our neighborhoods an alternative to the street. She is not proposing displacing the homeless, apparently there are 2 unused floors.
Assembly member Karim Camara also addressed the need to provide positive activities for kids. This is going to be a major focus of the efforts of the Crown Heights Coalition in 2008.
The community affairs officer from the 32nd transit division announced a program that Nike is sponsoring: turn in your old sneakers and the rubber will go to build basketball courts in new Orleans. This partnership with Nike could have VERY positive benefits for the youth in our community in the future, so please participate.
The deadline is this weekend, call (718) 221-6600 for more info
DI Cosgrove was not in attendance, the exec. officer Captain Myrie took his place to give the precinct report and answer questions and, you guessed it, a major issue in the precinct this past month was what we've been experiencing: muggings by kids in the west end of the precinct. There has been increased patrol in response.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but the problem is more widespread than what is being reported here. A 30 year resident of Prospect Place between Franklin & Bedford reported that there have been 3 such incidents on her block in the past 3 weeks, same m.o.: kids. And this is against older residents, she was outraged.
This woman also reported that she received a similar type of response to those that have been reported here concerning police reaction to calls regarding crime to the precinct: "this is crown heights what do you expect?"
People, this is what it takes to bring about change, getting up in public forums and voicing your discomfort with the status quo.
Unfortunately we are living in a time when the police department is stressed. And while there are gentrification issues in our community, it's not only the newbies that are getting hit. What this means is that it is up to the community to take control and (imho) this needs to be a 2 pronged approach:
1. working with NYPD with respect to both beefing up the force AND improving community precinct relations
2. working to offer alternatives other than the street to the youth in our community. As Richard Green of the Crown Heights Youth Collective says: "if you take a gun out of a kid's hand, you better have something to put in it's place"