Cops hear public concerns at Flushing meet

August Cops of the Month Officer Jared Rothschild (c.), Sgt. Patrick Beneventi (3rd from r.) and Officer Yat-Yu Yam (r.) accept their August Cop of the Month awards at the September 109th Community Council meeting. Photo by Connor Adams Sheets
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The 109th Precinct Community Council held its first meeting since June last week, packing the precinct house’s gathering room with dozens of community members.

Precinct Council President Chrissy Voskerichian said Sept. 14 that the council is seeking a new location to house the popular meetings, as it has become impossible to accommodate all the people who want to attend the meetings and many people were forced to stand against the walls or try to listen from outside the room.

The meeting was the first opportunity many residents have had to discuss public safety issues since the start of the summer, and many attendees expressed their concerns about a recent flare-up in gun violence.

Area politicians, including state Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and City Councilmen Peter Koo (R-Flushing) and Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone), also spoke at the meeting, where they discussed community concerns and praised the 109th for its work under the command of Deputy Inspector Brian Maguire.

“In recent days and weeks, there have been a couple of incidents at the housing project here in Flushing, a couple of incidents at the Bland Houses and uncomfortable situations at Latimer [Gardens],” Meng said. “It’s a very dire situation.”

That violence was the key concern of many who attended a town hall on the topic the following night at the Bland Houses Community Center.

Despite a recent uptick in gun violence, with two shootings at the Bland Houses in three days last week, crime in the 109th was down 5.71 percent overall from last year’s levels as of Sept. 4, according to police statistics. But there had been six murders compared to last year’s five by Sept. 4, and 12 rapes compared with 10 a year earlier, the statistics showed.

The 109th has been effective in addressing burglaries, bringing the number as of Sept. 4 down 24 percent from 325 to 247, and grand larceny autos, which fell 8.1 percent in that period, from 185 to 170 incidences, according to the statistics.

Maguire awarded six officers Cop of the Month honors for July and August, sponsored by local business owner Sal Bacarella.

On July 28, two robberies took place in rapid succession, one at Colden Avenue and 145th Street and one on Bowne Street, Maguire said, and July Cops of the Month Lt. Anthony Kotarski, Officer Sam Har and Officer Michael Kerrigan quickly arrested two suspects.

“Thanks to the efforts of Lt. Kotarski and Officers Har and Kerrigan, a short-lived crime spree was quickly ended,” Maguire said.

On Aug. 12, five robberies were reported, and August Cops of the Month Sgt. Patrick Beneventi, Officer Jared Rothschild and Officer Yat-Yu Yam spotted a vehicle that fit the description given by one of the victims as the one the suspects fled in and chased it onto the Long Island Expressway, Maguire said.

The officers drove in front of the car and the two suspects threw jewelry out of their windows, which turned out to have been stolen from three of the victims. Police later determined that the suspects had only attempted to rob the other two victims but did not obtain any proceeds, according to Beneventi.

“The two guys were just going along and they tried to rob five females within one hour,” he said. “They were arrested, they were identified by all the victims and all the proceeds of the robberies were recovered.”

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4538.

Updated 12:57 pm, September 22, 2011
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