Business cards were being exchanged faster than the corn beef and boiled potatoes lunch could be served at the Queens Chamber of Commerce Luncheon at the Terrace on the Park catering hall in Flushing Meadows Corona Park March 16. Completing the Irish backdrop for the day was the traditional Irish music of the Alternatrad Band and keynote speaker, Sunnyside's own New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly."A safe environment is an essential ingredient for success," Kelly told the gathered crowd of business leaders and entrepreneurs. Kelly recalled how after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 many people were predicting the city would revert to the high crime days of the early 1990s and the editorial pages of New York's newspapers were filled with phrases like "downward spiral" and "the bad old days of mayhem.""They were wrong," said Kelly to a rousing applause.Kelly touted the city's falling homicide rate, which has been below 600 a year since 2002 and how the Police Department has been fighting crime with a lower number of officers."We're doing more with less," said Kelly. He said the police force has been shrunk by 5,000 officers since 2001 while still reducing crime year after year. He said one of the major contributing factors to the decline was Operation Impact, which identifies high crime areas and sends extra police and patrols to combat the crime. Kelly said there are four such zones in Queens, in the 103rd, 104th, 107th and 110th precincts. "If we displace crime in one area, we are prepared to fight it in another area," said Kelly.Kelly also addressed the growing graffiti problem in Queens, noting that arrests have increased since the start of Operation Clean Sweep."Graffiti has a way of eroding the quality of life in an area," said Kelly.The NYPD has established a data base of tags, or the distinctive signature of vandals, so that when a person is arrested his or her tag can be compared to the data base, leading to more charges."It has led to the arrest of more of the chronic offenders," said Kelly.Kelly also told the chamber members that the police cannot fight crime alone and business owners need to work with the police to identify problems in their areas."It's a partnership," said Kelly of the relationship.Reach reporter Peter A. Sutters Jr. by e-mail at news@times
©2005 Community News Group
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