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Night Out Against Crime

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But our city is not safe enough. Not by a long shot. There are still many...

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.

Five ‘stupid kids’

There appears to be little hope that the police will be able to identify and arrest “five white kids” believed to be responsible for painting anti-Semitic graffiti on garage doors in Lindenwood, near Howard Beach.

Although the graffiti, including swastikas, was annoying and frightening, authorities do not believe it was the work of an organized hate group. More than likely, they say, it was the handiwork of “stupid kids.” Some residents say they saw five white teenagers running from the scene of the crime. But, for the moment, that is all the police have to go on.

In a separate unrelated incident, police are investigating an assault on a black man in a nearby McDonald's.

It is possible that both incidents are more the result of ignorance than deeply held prejudice and hatred. But that is not an excuse. The schools need to do a better job in challenging the thinking that led to the swastikas and the McDonald’s assault. At the same time, the public must help the police find the vandals.

They may be stupid punks, but they need to be held accountable. In both the graffiti and the McDonald’s incident, the community must say this kind of conduct will not be tolerated.

Posted 7:15 pm, October 10, 2011
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