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103rd Pct. detective calls for community vigilance

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The 103rd Precinct’s top detective said his best tool for catching criminals is not a fancy computer or more officers, but the eyes and ears of the community.

Faced with an increase in crime in southeast Queens last year, Lt. Sal Salerno urged residents at the precinct’s monthly community council meeting last week to speak up when they see something suspicious.

Salerno, the head of the detectives’ squad for the 103rd, said his officers are hard at work solving several open murder cases from last year. The biggest reason why these crimes remain unsolved is the lack of information from witnesses, according to the lieutenant.

“We had a lot of shootings and we could use the help,” he said.

Last year there were 15 homicides in the precinct, which covers the Jamaica, Hollis Park Gardens, Hollis and Lakewood neighborhoods. That was an increase from 10 murders that took place in the area in 2009.

Salerno said there is too much fear among people and they are afraid of what might happen to them if they talk to the authorities.

“I think it’s typical of what’s going on in the world,” he said. “Unfortunat­ely, there are persons that are close to the victim and they don’t want to come forward.”

The lieutenant said people should not worry about coming forward because the precinct will protect their identity.

Department Inspector Charles McEvoy, the 103rd commanding officer, agreed with Salerno and said the information provided by helpful residents go a long way. He said last week a man came into the precinct and informed him he saw an illegal gun inside a home filled with children.

Within 24 hours, officers were able to get a search warrant for the home and confiscated the illegal handgun. The suspect who acquired gun had not been apprehended as of press time Tuesday.

“I am very comfortable that there will not be a tragedy in that house,” McEvoy said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

Updated 10:48 am, October 12, 2011
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