Today’s news:

103rd Pct. crime drops 6%

Overall crime for the 103rd Precinct declined in 2009 from the previous year, but major offenses such as rape, assault and robbery rose, police statistics show.

The precinct, which covers downtown Jamaica, Hollis Park Gardens, Hollis, Lakewood and Jamaica, had a 5.85 percent drop in crimes, with 1,723 reported incidents this year compared to 1,830 reported crimes last year, according to the NYPD.

Murder was down 15.4 percent from 11 reported homicides this year compared to 13 in 2008, the NYPD said.

Despite the decrease, the precinct investigated 33 rape cases, a 3.1 percent increase from the 32 rapes in 2008; and 379 felony assaults, an 18.7 percent spike from the 321 reported assaults last year. Burglary increased from 287 incidents last year to 291 incidents this year, a 1.4 percent rise, police statistics released Dec. 28 showed.

Donna Clopton, the precinct community council’s president, said officers have had to deal with declining police budgets and other cutbacks, but they have been working hard to curb crime.

“I think the police have done a good job working with what they have to work with,” she said.

One of the initiatives, according to Clopton, is community outreach. In September, Campus Magnet High School freshman Kevin Miller was killed near the school by bullets fired by suspected gang members who were in what was believed to be a fight with rivals, investigators said.

The 13-year-old’s death spurred the community, which came to the precinct for justice, so the officers made themselves available. Clopton said the squad has constantly provided parents with information on gangs and how to get teens to stay on a positive track.

“I think the attempt to make the parents aware of the gang activities ... was one of the highlights of the year,” she said.

The precinct has been receiving some help from other civics and groups that are reaching out to the neighborhood to educate residents on criminal activities.

Clopton added that the precinct’s new commanding officer has been working hard to help clean the streets and improve communication with the neighborhood. After Deputy Inspector Charles McEvoy replaced Deputy Chief Michael Blake, who has been assigned to head the new NYPD’s anti-terrorist team, he has kept his ear open to community concerns, according to Clopton.

“He’s available, he has the same open door policy and he’s fair,” she said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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