Neighbor to Neighbor

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Police, community must work together to catch rapists

This summer has not been meeting-free in southeast Queens. The usual free months of July and August have been busy for those of us anxious to see the rapists caught, prosecuted and sentenced, hopefully for a long time.

These criminals have caused a great deal of damage physically, emotionally and financially and must be stopped. "Wanted" posters taped on public transportation and in some communities, including Laurelton, have been taken down, indicating that someone knows and is trying to prevent the capture of these people.

Some people, including one speaker at a meeting held Aug. 20 at the Robert Ross Family Life Center in St. Abans, sponsored by state Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-St. Albans), City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) and others, pleaded for help for these "sick" people. That should be all the more response for someone who knows them to turn them in before they do more harm.

When Scarborough opened the meeting, he acknowledged that he knew the NYPD — represented by Assistant Chief Thomas Dale, the commanding officer of Patrol Borough Queens South, and borough officers from the 103rd, 105th and 113th precincts — had been working hard trying to solve these frustrating cases.

He also noted that this situation necessitates that this is a time when the public must cooperate with and not oppose the police. This meeting was called to bring the community up-to-date with progress on the case and let the police and district attorney's office, represented by Jessie Sleigh, know of community concerns and support.

The police have formed a special task force for these cases. The task force uses marked and unmarked cars and uniformed and plain-clothed officers. They have DNA on two attackers and have reviewed all domestic and international databases insofar as possible.

Dale repeated the $12,000 reward mentioned for each criminal on the "wanted" posters and said they received many tips, each of which have been followed up on. One tip led to the arrest of a 15-year-old for an unrelated offense. When pressed to give a complete list of police efforts on these cases, Dale said it would not be advisable to do that at this time, but assured us that every effort is being made.

He was pleased, and I suspect surprised, when my friend, Mildred Collins, asked for help getting to the microphone and said, "I am 90 years old. I like the police and know they work very hard and are understaffed. We need another precinct in southeast Queens and the police are underpaid and need a raise!"

Dale rushed over to her and gave her a kiss. The next day, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a pay increase for the NYPD. Great going, Mildred!

Some speakers were not as supportive of the police, however. One man demanded to know why NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly was not attending the meeting. Scarborough answered that Dale attended as his representative and had given us the information available and hoped that would suffice so we could move on.

The man persisted and insisted Kelly should have been there and said Kelly should resign. Two women with him also agreed. Dale said he felt these demands were unfair. I suspect most of those present agreed with Dale.

There were audience complaints about trucks and cars parking for long periods of time. One speaker said she had been mugged three times in an area where trees and other vegetation had become overgrown. Many people said additional police on the streets would be a desired priority.

Both Comrie and U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica), who attended late due to his return from Washington, D.C., stressed the importance of everyone working to apprehend these criminals.

With acknowledged understaffing of city agencies, volunteerism could be important. Everyone could find some way to participate.

Personal and property safety tips were given by the police, Home Security Association and Safe Horizon-Rape Prevention and Victims Association. Citizens Committee for NYC told us it has funding and assistance for those seeking to form such groups as block associations. There was a self-defense demonstration at the end of the meeting that was impressed.

Let us hope that the efforts being made come to fruition soon.

Posted 6:37 pm, October 10, 2011
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