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Leaders ask for new S. Queens precinct

They stood outside the headquarters of the precinct, which they described as an understaffed and overburdened command that covers one of the largest areas in the city."What's good for Staten Island is good for Queens," City Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis) said a week after Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that Staten Island would be getting a new precinct after a population spike of 65,000 in the last decade. Queens grew by 277,000 people over the same period, Weprin said, while residents in the 105th Precinct - which covers about 13 square miles from the Grand Central Parkway to Kennedy Airport - saw their police staff drop from 250 to 200 officers.The 105th covers about 197,000 residents, the councilman said, some 60,000 more people than the average Queens precinct. State Sen. Frank Padavan, (R-Bellerose) said local residents have been asking for a new precinct for thirty years. City Councilman James Sanders (D-Laurelton) lauded Bloomberg for adding a new precinct in Staten Island. "Don't just stop there, Mr. Mayor. Let's go to Queens," he said in front of the precinct on 222nd Street. "How long must the battle go on before the people of Queens get fair treatment?"Richard C. Hellenbrecht, the chairman of Community Board 13, said the board has made a new precinct one of its top three capital budget priorities for the past 30 years. CB 13 covers much the same area as the 105th Precinct, stretching from Glen Oaks through Queens Village to Springfield Gardens and Rosedale.He said it takes 20 minutes to drive across the precinct and patrol officers were putting as much as 1,000 miles a week on their vehicles. This has caused slow response times, he said. "When you call for one (officer), it takes a long time to get one," Hellenbrecht said. "The police motto is to protect and serve," said Charles Farugia, of the Floral Park Community Council. "Well, if they're not in the area, they're not protecting." Weprin said he hoped that Bloomberg's decision on establishing a fourth precinct in Staten Island, which has a large number of Republican voters, was not politically motivated. The mayor said his decision was based on the borough's narrow streets, which slow response times, population growth and a modest drop in crime. Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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