May. 4, 2023 By Carlotta Mohamed
Loud music, ATVs and dirtbikes, and a crackdown on illegal smoke shops were just some of the quality-of-life issues discussed during the Queens Borough Board meeting with NYPD officials on Monday, May 1, regarding crime and public safety.
The Queens Borough Board meeting, chaired by Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, included presentations from Assistant Chief Kevin Williams, commanding officer of NYPD Patrol Borough Queens South and Assistant Chief Christine Bastedendeck, commanding officer of NYPD Patrol Borough Queens North.
The two chiefs were joined by leaders from the borough’s police precincts and discussed recent crime statistics, the rollout of Neighborhood Safety Teams, and the NYPD’s efforts to combat crime in the summer months.
While ATVs, dirt bikes, and mopeds are a citywide issue, Bastedendeck said precincts in Patrol Borough Queens North would continue to address those complaints that cause a disturbance in communities, especially during the summertime.
“For this year, we have arrested 77 individuals in relation to these types of things. We have issued over 3,800 summonses and we’ve seized 587 of these types of vehicles,” Bastedendeck said. “Mopeds are allowed to be used on the streets, but have to be registered, insured, and the operator has to have a driver’s license.”
However, according to Bastedendeck, the NYPD is continuing to seize mopeds as a lot of people are operating without a license, registration, or insurance.
In Queens Patrol Borough South, Williams said police officers have been working with their partners in Queens North on enforcement procedures concerning dirt bikes and ATVs.
When asked about noise complaints, Williams said he will have a community response team partnered with precincts and city agencies to address the issue and house parties in certain areas.
“We were very successful last summer and will continue to do that,” Williams said.
Additionally, police officers will be assigned to the Rockaway Beach Detail in the 100th and 101st Precincts. Under the Summer Violence Reduction Plan, additional resources will be allocated to areas where historical violence occurs in the summer, Wiliams said.
As for smoke shops, which have become problematic, Williams said they’re working with the NYC Sheriff’s Office to shut down the illegal establishments.
For Year-to-Date, the precincts have conducted about 120 special operations at smoke shops resulting in 51 felony arrests, 29 misdemeanor arrests, two violation arrests, and about 77 summonses issued, according to Williams.
“In these inspections, we removed five firearms and conducted 10 undercover stings, resulting in nine locations being submitted for nuisance abatement,” Williams said. “So far, working with the Sheriff’s Office, we have closed two smoke shops in the borough.”
While the NYPD is working to address these quality-of-life issues, the lack of personnel continues to be a problem. It’s also a concern for residents who are requesting the presence of more police officers in their communities.
Vincent Arcuri, chairman of Community Board 5, said he has seen no police officers patrolling the streets within the 104th Precinct.
“All of the cars and the officers are in the precinct – they respond to 911 and 311 and maybe a crime in progress or emergency. Why isn’t no one out patrolling anywhere in the 104th Precinct?” Arcuri said.
In response to Arcuri’s question, NYPD 104th Precinct Deputy Inspector Kevin Coleman said it’s a challenging time as the precinct is understaffed and is maximizing its resources to ensure public safety.
“I would like more officers at the 104th Precinct. We are very short, but I can assure you that with our limited resources, we are going to continue to do our best to lower crime and to address quality-of-life issues,” Coleman said. “We are up 7% year-to-date. However, earlier in the year we were up 12%, and we are trending in the right direction, and I believe that we will have a very successful year in the 104th precinct.”
Meanwhile, Frank Taylor, chairman of Community Board 3, said he has never seen a police car parked nearby Malcolm X Promenade, where issues continue to be a problem every summer.
“I’ve never seen a parked police car there unless a dead body floats up,” Taylor said. “There’s also homelessness, a problem with the boats, and three or four years ago we had a mass shooting down there. “Another issue is Roosevelt Avenue — it’s horrendous with unlicensed vendors, prostitution houses, and drug dealers right out in the open.”
NYPD 110th Precinct Deputy Inspector John Portalatin reassured Taylor that officers have conducted enforcement at the park. Additionally, there will be an influx of police officers deployed to Roosevelt Avenue before the summertime, Portalatin said.
Portalatin added that the precinct will be working in conjunction with the 115th Precinct to conduct weekly operations hitting unlicensed vendors, and prostitution houses, among other issues along Roosevelt Avenue.
Reverend Carlene Thorbes, chairperson of Community Board 12, said residents would also like to see more Neighborhood Coordination Officers (NCOs) in the community.
While she has been very pleased with the trend of decreased crime, Betty Bratton, chairperson of Community Board 10, said residents are concerned about the lack of police officers as quality-of-life issues increase during the summer months.
Since the NYPD has changed its field training model, Williams said the new recruits will be sent directly to their commands throughout Queens South for training and they will keep resources within the command.