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Gianaris asks for more cops after murders

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State Assemblyman Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) called on the city Police Department last week to add officers to the 114th Precinct following a recent rash of murders, while City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) has asked the city to prevent homeless people from sleeping in Astoria Park.

The western Queens neighborhood is typically low on violent crime, but three homicides and another shooting have taken place in the community this summer.

“It is deeply disturbing that each week brings news of a new sensational violent crime in Astoria,” Gianaris said. “We must take immediate steps to combat this crime wave.”

Late last month, a reputed Hell’s Angels member from Glen Cove, L.I., was found dead on 28th Street between Ditmars Boulevard and 21st Avenue. The victim had multiple gunshot wounds to his head.

In July, a 32-year-old man was strangled to death in Astoria Park, while another man was fatally stabbed near Ditmars Boulevard. A homeless couple was arrested in the strangling.

Earlier this summer, gunshots were fired near Mike’s Diner along 31st Street in Astoria. This year’s murder rate in the precinct so far is double the amount of homicides during the entire year of 2009.

Gianaris wrote to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to seek answers about the crime increase in the community and to request additional patrol officers.

“A hallmark of your tenure as commissioner has been an effort to flood neighborhoods experiencing increased crime with additional officers to make those neighborhoods safer,” Gianaris wrote to Kelly. “The people of western Queens deserve no less than such an effort at this time.”

Vallone has called on the city Department of Homeless Services to dispatch a team to provide “alternative solutions” for homeless men and women who are sleeping on neighborhood streets following the recent murder in Astoria Park.

The councilman said his office has also received an increased number of complaints about homeless people sleeping in the park as well as on 31st Street and Ditmars Boulevard.

“The safety of our community is my No. 1 priority,” Vallone said. “I encourage our residents to keep calling and writing to my office to help keep our streets and parks safe.”

The 114th Precinct is in the midst of getting new staff after Deputy Inspector Paul Vorbeck unexpectedly retired from his post late last month and three other high-ranking detectives also left the precinct.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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