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Safer skyscrapers?

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Much of their legislation makes sense and addresses concerns that have already been tackled by local government. Nearly everyone agrees that there needs to be better communication during a catastrophe that draws response from police, fire and other emergency services. But even on this level caveats are in order.

The attack on the World Trade Center destroyed critical communication links that might have helped coordinate the emergency response. It also decimated the headquarters of the Office of Emergency Management. But nothing in this legislation would have prevented massive loss of life. Even with better communications the police and firefighters would have gone in and they would have died trying to save lives.

The legislation would also create tougher building codes for skyscrapers. We can always do better. But the truth is that the World Trade Center was built to withstand almost anything short of the disaster that occurred on Sept. 11. It is folly to imagine that we can build skyscrapers that will withstand the crashing of a jet airliner.

Little in this legislation is helpful.

Night Out Against Crime

The city has come a long way in the fight against crime. Once one of the most dangerous big cities in America, New York is now ranked among the safer metropolitan areas.

But our city is not safe enough. Not by a long shot. There are still many neighborhoods in Queens where residents feel compelled to protect first-floor windows with iron bars, where mothers still worry that their teenage boys won’t come home from a night of shooting hoops at the local playground or that someone will try to sell them crack or other hazardous drugs. There are still neighborhoods where the clerk at the corner store hands out change from behind bulletproof glass. And there are still neighborhoods where women are frightened to walk after dark from the subway to their homes.

And the concerns are not limited to violent crime. Whether it’s car thefts in Whitestone or graffiti in Astoria, crime both serious and petty has affected the quality of life in Queens.

Next Tuesday the people of Queens will have an opportunity to do something about crimes. Most precincts will be honoring the national Night Out Against Crime with a broad range of events intended to enlist the public’s support in the war against crime. This is your chance to meet with local law enforcement officials, including precinct commanders, FBI, DEA, prosecutors, neighborhood watch groups and drug-treatment providers.

The Night Out gives the NYPD and other organizations a unique opportunity to get information out to those most active in the community. It also gives residents the chance to meet face-to-face with officials who have the power to address problems, whether it be vandals at the playground, drug dealers or any other threat to public safety.

Although the Night Out is just one night out of an entire year, it can provide residents with the opportunity to make the connections that will lead to positive change. The police and other organizations are eager to work with the community to make New York City a truly safe place. By attending your local Night Out event, you are signaling your support for the work that they do.

For this one night, turn off the TV, and let’s stand together all across Queens to say that the war against crime has just begun.

Posted 7:15 pm, October 10, 2011
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