"This is a situation we want to nip in the bud," Liu said at a news conference in his office Friday announcing the meeting, to be held at PS 20 on Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. The school abuts the site of the violence: John Bowne playground, located on Union Street between Barclay and Sandford avenues, just blocks from the building that houses both JHS 189 and the Flushing International High School."Students are coming back to school to let us know they're having fights or they're being mugged or situations like that," said Cindy Diaz-Burgos, the principal of JHS 189. Diaz-Burgos and principals from the other two schools joined Liu and police from the 109th Precinct at the news briefing.Police declined to discuss specific cases, but officials said many of the incidents involve students robbing other students of cell phones or iPods after school in the park or the surrounding area. Because the playground is just blocks from the end of the No. 7 line and the Flushing Long Island Rail Road station, police and principals said the large number of students passing through the area in the afternoon contributes to the problem."Being at the center of a transportation hub, we have quite a bit of movement of people," said Frank Welfer, the principal of PS 20.Police said it is important for students to report incidents as soon as they happen rather than waiting until they get home or the next day."We need greater responses from children there," said Capt. Johnny Ramirez, the new second-in-command at the 109th. "We do have posts out there, we can respond immediately," he said. "They should look to us for help, they shouldn't run from us."Police said people can register their cell phones, iPods and other electronics with the 109th Precinct, so that if they are found on another person, that person can be charged with criminal possession of stolen property.Ramirez said the precinct has received about 20 new foot patrol officers who will be focused in the vicinity of the after-school violence.Lt. John Schneider said the incidents are up over this time last year, probably because more people were outside during the mild weather in January."It's basically a problem of what's called kid-on-kid violence," Liu said, pointing out that in most cases older kids confronted younger children. The officials said the town hall meeting would be an opportunity for parents to share their concerns and information with the police.Reach reporter John Tozzi by e-mail at news@times
©2006 Community News Group
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