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111th Pct. recruits Asians for Explorer teen program

The 111th Precinct is recruiting the next generation of Asian police officers by expanding its Explorers program for youth as part of a drive by police and Asian leaders to strengthen relations with the community.

The 111th Precinct, which covers Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston, Oakland Gardens and part of Auburndale, is also seeking to increase overall membership in its Explorers program — an offshoot of the Boy Scouts that exposes young people to law enforcement careers.

The Explorers, boys and girls ages 14 to 20, meet every two weeks during the school year. They paint over graffiti, shovel snow and do filing at the precinct for the opportunity to visit the different Police Department units and even take field trips to the zoo and the beach over the summer.

“It’s a great program,” said Special Operations Lt. Dan Heffernan. “It helps us recruit auxiliary officers, and it helps with recruitment in the Police Department in the future.”

Heffernan said that as part of the precinct’s Asian outreach effort, Korean churches would be part of the membership drive to beef up the Explorers. The group’s numbers have declined from a high of 30 to seven current participants due to many members’ graduation from school.

The 2000 U.S. Census put the Asian population of Community Board 11, which spans roughly the same area as the 111th, at more than 26 percent.

“We have a tremendous number of Asians,” said Michael Limb, executive chairman of the Asian American Council, a group that seeks to improve relations between the police and Asians.

“After school the kids have nowhere to go,” said Limb, who is helping to recruit Explorers for the 111th Precinct. “Most of the Asian families are working.”

Limb, who was scheduled to give a news conference about the Explorers to the Asian media Feb. 11, said the participation of Asian children in the Explorers program “will improve the community relationship” with police.

“The Asians had a very bad experience with police in their countries before they came to the U.S.,” said Limb, who hoped to send a message to the Explorers’ parents that police in this country are “more friendly, helping victims, trying to educate young kids in a good way.”

Adam Kim, executive chairman of the Police Department’s Patrol Borough Queens North Asian Advisory Council, said crime prevention by Asians was lacking.

“Because of their language problems, they don’t report (crimes) promptly,” he said.

Kim said youth gang crime also needed to be addressed.

“We need more information (for) the parents so they can watch their kids,” he said.

Those wishing to find out more about the Explorers program can call the 111th Precinct community policing office at (718) 279-0792.

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

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