Editorial: An imaginary crisis

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The signs are showing up all over the 104th Precinct: “Don’t take our cops out to the ballgame.” Community leaders protested at a recent meeting of Community Board 5 that the redeployment of police from local precincts to Shea Stadium on game days is putting the 104th and other precincts at risk.

The activists argue that it is unfair to the neighborhoods of Queens to take police who should be patrolling their streets and station them outside the stadium.

Where should the police commissioner find the officers to deploy at Shea? In light of the terrorism that shook this city to the core on Sept. 11, it would be reckless for the commissioner not to increase security at Shea stadium. Today there is intense debate about whether the president did enough to prevent the attack on the World Trade Center. Do we want sometime in the future to be asking why police security at Shea or Yankee Stadium wasn’t adequate?

Obviously not.

There is no pool of officers ready to be deployed for special assignment. If police are going to keep watch in the parking lot at Shea, they will have to come out of the local precincts.

That’s not as bad as it sounds. Crime is down in all of the precincts of Queens. As far as we know, there is no evidence that there has been a spike in crime in Juniper Park, Jackson Heights or anywhere else on the nights when the Mets play home games.

This is an imaginary crisis.

Deputy Chief Ed Cannon, the second in command at Patrol Borough Queens North attempted to address the growing alarm: “The one thing I can assure the community of the 104th Precinct is that we never leave them with less resources than they need to have the area effectively policed.”

The NYPD tracks criminal activity with painstaking accuracy. The numbers will tell whether community leaders have a point. It should be easy to show whether there is an increase in criminal activity on nights when police are reassigned to Shea.

Finally, there is nothing wrong with using police to ensure public safety outside the stadium. The parking lot is Parks Department property. The Mets organization pays for security inside the stadium, but there is nor reason why the Mets should provide security outside.

Editorial: Seniors feel the pinch

Under the Giuliani administration, city agencies were asked repeatedly to cut their budgets. Only the uniform agencies - police and firefighters - and programs for the elderly escaped the budget ax.

But times are tougher now than anyone ever imagined possible. In the face of a $5 billion deficit, the Department for the Aging must also cut its budget, although by far less than other agencies.

Our senior citizens are among the most vulnerable members of our society. It is understandable that talk of closing senior centers and cutting services has generated both anger and fear. Elected officials and service providers should take care not to exploit that fear.

Queens’ senior citizens gathered recently at the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council to protest the proposed cuts at a hearing held by the City Council Committee on Aging. Roseann Rosado, the director of the Queens Multi Service Center on Myrtle Avenue in Glendale, testified that “while we all understand the need for balancing the budget and reducing debt, it is unfortunate that once again the senior citizens of our community will have to pay the price.”

Not only is that not true, it is not helpful. The mayor is open to suggestions. If Ms. Rosado or anyone else knows a way to balance the budget without such painful measures, we’d like to hear it.

Posted 7:04 pm, October 10, 2011
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