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111th Precinct, civic leaders hold annual meeting

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One of the Bell Boulevard bars where a Haitian man was beaten by a group of whites in February has turned itself around, 111th Precinct Capt. Kevin Fitzgerald said this week, but the police do not plan to lighten up their enforcement effort.

In February George Saint Louis of Bayside was beaten outside the Byzantio Bar and Grill at 45-30 Bell Blvd. by three to four whites after an argument broke out between them inside the eatery. Three men were later arrested in the attack, which has been treated as a bias crime by police and the Queens district attorney’s office.

During a Monday meeting between Fitzgerald and civic leaders Fitzgerald said the 111th Precinct will continue to monitor the Byzantio.

“We’ve been in there constantly,” he said. “They’ve done a 180 — I won’t say they’ve done a 360 because they haven’t completely turned it around yet.”

Fitzgerald said the addition of an ID card scanning machine, which logs a photo of a person’s ID or driver’s license and stores the information for a period of time, was a major improvement for Byzantio.

“Those machines are excellent for law enforcement,” he said. “If any other major incident happens in there again, we should be able to know 90 to 95 percent of the people who were inside at the time.”

The subject of Byzantio was just one of the topics broached during the meeting, which included Bayside civic leaders Frank Skala, Mandingo Tshaka, Loretta Napier and several business owners and residents.

Skala said the annual meeting, which he tries to hold twice a year, is a way for the community to head off problems before they start.

“We try to prevent problems and keep them from happening,” he said. “That’s part of our job — to make your job work better.”

While Skala urged Fitzgerald to be aware of potential illegal fireworks in area parks for the Fourth of July, one of the first things he asked about was the transfer of longtime Bell Boulevard Officer Cosmo Camilliti.

“He was liked,” Skala said of Camilliti, who was recently honored by the Bayside Kiwanis.

Fitzgerald said the precinct learned last week that Camilliti would be transferred to Harbor patrol, which he called “an excellent transfer,” and said Camilliti’s replacement would be named by the end of the week.

Civic leaders also complained about a lack of officers patrolling the southern end of Bell Boulevard to 48th Avenue by foot and urged Fitzgerald to increase the police presence there.

“We don’t see them. They must get out in the street and walk around,” Tshaka said.

Tshaka and Napier also made note of the speeding problems that plague southern Bayside on streets between Bell Boulevard and the Clearview Expressway.

Drivers who double park along Bell Boulevard, where parking is scarce, was also an issue at the meeting.

“We want all the traffic laws enforced,” Skala said. “If you ever catch me double parking, give me two tickets — one for double parking and one for being stupid.”

Fitzgerald, who called double parkers one of his pet peeves, agreed.

“With that type of situation there’s no discretion,” he said. “It can’t be done.”

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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