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Operation Impact reduces Jamaica crime by 50%

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Operation Impact, the police initiative that brought about 50 extra officers to downtown Jamaica in January, has helped reduce crime by about 50 percent, but the area is still battling its image as a high-crime area, a detective from the 103rd Precinct said.

The officers, focusing on Jamaica Avenue between 169th Street and Parsons Boulevard, have added foot patrols in the afternoon and evening as part of a citywide effort to target specific communities, Detective Victor Logan of the 103rd Precinct Community Affairs told a meeting of the Greater Jamaica Development Corp. last Thursday.

Since about 50 officers joined the 103rd Precinct patrols when Operation Impact started in January, overall crime in that area has fallen by about 50 percent, with a 10 percent drop throughout the precinct, Logan said.

"We have a lot of officers on full patrol," he said. "It's concentrated in the downtown business district with the officers on foot."

But some were concerned about a shortage of officers on the weekends.

"Saturdays and Sundays there seem to be less police in the area, and what happens is the three-card monte dealers set up on Jamaica Avenue," said Thomas Crater Jr., a Jamaica publisher. "Do criminals know your hours?"

Logan said the rigged card games had been a problem, but many had been cleared out, he said. Crime Prevention Officer Bob Reilly agreed that staffing has been a problem on weekends, especially when officers have been pulled to other precincts to cover street festivals and parades, he said.

"There could be less personnel on the weekends because people have off," Reilly said. "Sometimes people are called for details and sent elsewhere."

More officers will probably be pulled over to other assignments as summer events, such as the JAMS festival on Jamaica Avenue, are held throughout the city, he said.

"That will be happening a lot during the summer," he said. "As we take from other precincts, they take from us. We try to keep as many as possible here."

Throughout the precinct, which covers Jamaica and Hollis, crime has fallen by about 10 percent so far this year from comparable 2002 levels, according to police statistics through May 11. Burglaries are down 35 percent from 147 incidents last year to 95 this year, while grand larceny has dropped 26 percent to 106 from last year's 144, according to the statistics. Murders, however, have jumped from four at this time last year to 12 for a 200 percent spike.

But in addition to the crime concerns in the area, the Greater Jamaica downtown committee is also focusing on beautification projects to draw people to southeast Queens, said Bill Martin, the committee's chairman.

"A lot of people view Jamaica as a high-crime area," Martin said. "We work hard here to dispel that myth. We need to change the image of Jamaica as being a high-crime area and a place where people don't want to come to."

Crater, who is heading a beautification committee, is organizing a campaign to paint over graffiti, but finding money to pay for paint, gloves and brushes has been a problem, he said.

"We have young people that are willing to do this, but we have not been able to get donations."

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

Posted 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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