105th Pct. works to help community grasp diversity

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The 105th Precinct and the 105th Precinct Community Council brought together community members in an effort to bridge the gap among the many different ethnic, cultural and religious groups within the boundaries of the precinct.

The multicultural and sensitivity meeting, held May 20 at Campus Magnet High School in Cambria Heights, tried to help community members understand their differences, demonstrate the difficulties police have responding to an incident called in on the radio and let community members voice some of their concerns.

“We have been holding meetings like this for the past five years,” said Rose Funderburk, vice president of the community council. “We used to hold a sensitivity meeting in all of the communities around the district, but felt with everything that had gone on with 9/11, it was better to have it in a multicultural setting.”

The 105th Precinct covers the largest territory in Queens. It stretches from Glen Oaks to Cambria Heights and from Queens Village to Rosedale and includes Bellerose, Floral Park, Laurelton, Springfield Gardens, Hollis and parts of St. Albans and Jamaica. The precinct covers 12.7 square miles and 354 miles of roadway.

The meeting gives residents the opportunity to learn about their neighbors and develop a better understanding of each other. The area is very diverse, and what is commonplace in one culture is not in another, which can cause animosity, Funderburk said.

About 30 community members and police officers attended.

“These differences can lead to problems,” Funderburk said. If community residents can begin to understand how each group is different, she said, it would be a more cohesive community with fewer problems.

There are vast numbers of Indian immigrants in the area, she said, and many have felt uncomfortable with what has been happening and how they have been treated since the attack on the World Trade Center.

“We felt that if we could get to know each other better, we could solve many of the problems that exist in our community,” Funderburk said. “By bringing together the community, we can learn each other’s concerns and get a better understanding of what is going on.”

Among the problems she cited were very large and elaborate Indian weddings, which can last for days and intrude on their neighbors’ peace and quiet. Another is homeowners in many sections of the district who either rent out their basements or have numerous family members living under one roof.

One of the major community complaints with the precinct is how it acts or reacts in different situations. In order to show the community that it is not always the cops who make a mistake, the precinct had the group listen to police radios to see if they could understand what was said.

“Cops don’t always know what is really going on at the scene until they get there,” said Police Officer Pete Dwyer, the 105th Precinct community affairs officer.

After listening to some of the calls that came in over the radio, Dwyer explained the codes and asked people if they had understood what was described. Many in the room heard a street address and some parts of a description, but nobody could understand everything that was said.

Dwyer said many times the descriptions given out over the air are dispersed in haste and come from a 911 call when the caller is agitated. Miscommunication can occur anywhere along the line from the moment a person calls in an emergency to the dispatcher taking the call to the officer receiving the call.

“This leads to problems,” Dwyer said. “We act on that description and sometimes that description is not what it means to tell. But this does not happen very often.”

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

Posted 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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