Community Council Takes on Trucks, Tricks and Preventative Tips

Photo by Sam Spokony

BY SCOTT STIFFLER  |  Held on the last Wednesday of the month, the 10th Precinct’s Community Council meetings provide area residents with an opportunity to ask questions, voice concerns and receive information about local crime trends as well as NYPD efforts to address ongoing problems.

Captain David Miller, the precinct’s commander, opened the February 26 meeting by reporting that grand larceny crime is “still going down tremendously. People are starting to hold onto their property,” he noted, in reference to the vast majority of criminal complaints filed at the 10th Precinct — from those who’ve had coats, phones, bags and purses stolen from restaurants or clubs (often a result of leaving that property unattended). Grand larceny incidents have decreased 19.1 percent from this time last year (106 v. 131), although petty larceny increased 4.1 percent (127 v. 122). Attempting to prevent an annual uptick of domestic thefts that occur in the spring, Miller asked residents (especially those whose apartments are accessible by fire escape) to resist the temptation to leave their windows open, when sleeping or exiting the apartment (even for a few minutes).

Several people in attendance, many who’ve expressed this concern at the past several Council meetings, again asked Miller what was being done to decrease prostitution and drug dealing that, they asserted, is associated with 24-hour, adult video stores along Eighth Avenue.

Miller specified that his precinct is only able to respond to activity on the street and in private residences. Occurrences in retail establishments, he noted, are the domain of the NYPD’s specialized Vice Enforcement Division. Anyone with a concern about prostitution or narcotics is encouraged to call 646-610-6610.

“You’re asking us to play detective,” said a woman. “I’ll think twice before I call you, because I have a family.” Frank Meade, the Council’s recording secretary, noted that the 646 number is “not a recorded line. You can remain anonymous.”

A longtime resident, recalling the Times Square porn glut of the 70s, wondered if the same mid-90s zoning ordinance passed by the City Council could be used to shutter today’s Eighth Avenue counterparts. Miller noted that the legislation was overturned on appeal, then responded to a comment that the NYPD (and anyone with eyes) “knows” who’s in the area to hustle. “We can’t just stop somebody from walking down the street or going into a store,” Miller said, adding, “The stores are part of the community.” His general question to the audience, asking if there had been a “change on Eighth Avenue” regarding these quality of life complaints, was met with affirmations.

“These people are getting arrested,” said Jeff Hobbs, deputy director of the Midtown Community Court (314 W. 54th St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.). He encouraged the public to attend on Tuesdays, when the court’s Prostitution Calendar conducts arraignments for these offenses (call 646-264-1300 for more info). Hobbs noted that the court works to ensure those arrested are given access to social services — in particular, treatment for the substance addiction that drives many into prostitution. At the meeting’s conclusion, a Vice officer was available to speak, one-on-one, with attendees.

On the matter of another perpetual concern — illegal truck traffic on side streets — Miller reported that the 10th Precinct is still engaged in ticketing, particularly on West 17th and 19th Streets. “People feel there’s been a 30 percent decrease” in trucks, he said. A representative from the newly formed 300 West 18th/19th Street Block Association noted that Detective Mike Petrillo attended their most recent meeting, where “a lot was accomplished” on matters of shared interest. He added that the Association was “looking for a way for commercial buses to be added to the signs” prohibiting truck traffic on side streets.

—  If you would like to join the Community Council mailing list, call the Community Affairs office: 212-741-8226.