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109th Precinct reaches out to Asians in northeast boro

The 111th and 109th police precincts held a joint meeting last Thursday for the Asian communities in northeast Queens with personal introductions by top police brass, crime prevention tips and information on how to become more involved with the local precincts.

Police organized the meeting, which drew about 70 people to St. Anastasia Church in Douglaston, in recognition of the Asian community's growing numbers. Asians now constitute 26 percent of the 111th Precinct's coverage area in Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston and part of Auburndale, according to the 111th commander, Capt. Julio Ordonez.

The precinct's first Korean-speaking officer, Yung Choe, was introduced to applause from the audience, comprised mostly of Chinese and Koreans with some South Asians as well, including members of the Asian American Council and the Asian Advisory Council for Patrol Borough Queens North.

"One of the concerns is the lack of communication we have," said Ordonez, who said he hoped to build "bridges and bonds" with the Asian community.

Eun A Lee, a domestic violence counselor at Korean-American Family Services in Flushing, said language barriers and cultural differences led to miscommunication with police.

"In Korean culture, we see the police as (out) to get us, not to help us," said Lee, who nonetheless encouraged those in the audience to call police in cases of abuse.

Lee thanked the precincts for their handling of domestic violence incidents and offered her agency as "a bridge between the community and police."

Inspector Owen Monaghan, commander of the 109th Precinct, said he wanted those in the audience to "act as true partners in reducing crime (and) preparing for terrorism."

Audience members got a crash course in property crime prevention from Officer Frank Vasquez of Patrol Borough Queens North, who gave tips on home security and advised people against leaving cars unattended with the keys in the ignition as they warmed up.

In addition to introducing Asian officers from the 111th and 109th precincts to the community, police gave out precinct and tipline phone numbers as well as a brochure on the department's Hate Crimes Task Force.

Capt. Michael Osgood mentioned two recent incidents being investigated by the Hate Crimes Task Force he oversees - the defacement of Grace Korean Church in Bayside with anti-Asian slurs and an assault on a Chinese woman at Caffe on the Green.

Osgood said "both cases are open .. they are being vigorously investigated," but he would not give details.

In a reflection of Asians' growing clout in northeast Queens, the Police Department's first deputy commissioner, George Grasso, and Assistant Chief James Tuller, commander of Patrol Borough Queens North, also addressed the meeting.

Auxiliary Sgt. Henry Lin of the 111th Precinct, who is Chinese-American, touted involvement in the volunteer patrol as a good way for Asians to get involved in the community.

Sol Soskin, president of the 111th Precinct Community Council, urged audience members to get involved in his group.

City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) and Soskin's counterpart in the 109th Precinct council, Wanda Beck Antosh, did the same.

"At one time, we were all Caucasian," said Antosh. "Now we're part of the Asian community also."

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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