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City Councilmen Peter Koo (R-Flushing) and Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) held a rally for greater police presence in Flushing at the James A. Bland Community Center at 133-36 Roosevelt Ave., across the street from the Mobil gas station where Pakistani immigrant Nadeem Khan was killed July 25.
“Since taking office in January, I have been calling for more police protection in our community,” Koo said. “I am deeply concerned with the recent rash of violent crimes and the general perception of residents that the streets of Flushing are unsafe.”
The councilmen also teamed up with the Community Mutual Aid Teams of Neighborhood Watch, a community watch group that Michael Chu, its leader, said began a week after the May 16 rape and murder of 23-year-old Chinese immigrant Yu Yao.
Yao was murdered on a busy street in downtown Flushing, where Chu said people did not stop to help her.
“We don’t want a tragedy like Yao or the gentleman who was killed the other evening to happen again,” Chu said.
Chu said the watch will be giving out 5,000 whistles and educating people on crime prevention. They are also working with the 109th Precinct to organize a graffiti cleanup. The 109th will decide the time and place.
Koo said that while he understands the 109th is understaffed, the community has unique needs and more protection is required to meet them. He cited the four murders that have happened in Flushing this year, as well as the 13 rapes and 20 percent increase in burglaries.
“Police protection is not a luxury, but it is a necessity and a right of each and every New York resident,” Koo said.
Koo also said he has obtained $100,000 each for Flushing’s Bland Houses, at 40-21 College Point Blvd., and Latimer Gardens, at 35-45 Linden Place, to have security cameras installed. He said he expects this project to be funded with the help of Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) by 2011.
Vallone, chairman of the Council Public Safety Committee, said he was also concerned about the increase of crime and quality-of-life issues in Queens.
He said he believed the city has forgotten the lessons of the 1991 Safe Streets, Safe City Program, which put more police on the streets and instituted, tougher laws and longer jail sentences. He also condemned the recent state law preventing the city Police Department from keeping a database of those who it stops and frisks, saying he would have rather see names purged after one year in the database as a compromise with those who said keeping innocent people who had been stopped but were not charged with a crime on a database indefinitely was an infringement on civil liberties.
“You combine this lax attitude on law enforcement with fewer police, you get what you see here,” Vallone said.
State Assemblywoman Grace Meng, who could not attend the rally, also released a statement in support of more police in the area, and said she would be meeting with the 109th soon to establish a civilian patrol group.
“We demand more police presence in our community,” Meng said. “There should be just as many police officers patrolling our streets as there are traffic agents issuing parking tickets.”
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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