Today’s news:

113th Pct. to step up patrols near schools

Commanding officer Capt. John Essig acknowledged that two 10-year-old girls were approached by a man on their way to school, but he told Monday’s 113th Precinct Community Council meeting there was no evidence that a sexual predator was targeting area schools.

Although a man approached the girls and offered them a ride to school, the girls were not assaulted, he said.

“They were very smart girls,” Essig said. “They immediately ran off to the school and reported it.”

Essig said he is increasing patrols around all public schools in the precinct and asked parents to talk to their children about it. He also cautioned them not to believe everything they hear from the rumor mill.

“Unfortunately, these stories get a little crazy,” he said. “One thing leads to another, and then it becomes that it happened four times and two girls got raped. That’s not true. It happened once.”

The girls said the man drove up to them as they were walking to PS 233 in Jamaica and offered them a ride to the school, Essig said. One of the girls was able to identify the man in a book of sexual offenders, according to the captain. The man she picked out was arrested in 1988 for raping a 9-year-old girl, he said.

Even though Essig is stepping up patrols and the information was distributed to area schools, he emphasized that whatever his intent, the man did not commit a crime.

City Councilman Allan Jennings (D-Jamaica) attended the meeting and was planning to meet with parents the following day to warn them of the potential dangers posed by sex offenders. At the meeting, Jennings was expected to urge parents to be on the lookout for these men and to tell their children not to talk to strangers, according to a news release issued by his office.

“I hope that in alerting the public to this serious issue, adults in the area will be able to give the police enough information to warrant an arrest and imprisonment,” he said.

Jennings also asked School Districts 28 in Richmond Hill, Jamaica and Forest Hills and District 29 in Jamaica to implement a policy that children up to sixth grade are not allowed to be dismissed from school unless they are picked up by a parent or other authorized adult, said Betsy Scheinbart, a spokeswoman for Jennings.

His sentiments echoed Essig’s own plea at the meeting for residents to report possible crimes. The department needs the information to continue to lower crime, he said.

“If you think you know of something that happened to a neighbor or a friend, encourage them to report it,” Essig said.

The council’s guest speaker, Andrew Jackson, from the Langston Hughes Cultural Center, also urged the audience to communicate with the precinct.

“They have a job, but we need to help them to get what we want,” he said. “If you don’t make the calls, you can’t hold them accountable for not doing their jobs.”

Essig also reported that while crime is down, robberies, including car thefts and muggings, continue to be a problem, along with illegal parking

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 229-0300 Ext. 138.

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