The 81st Police Precinct Community Council met Tuesday night at P.S. 309, located at 794 Monroe Street.
On Tuesday night’s agenda was the commanding officer’s update of crime activity in the precinct’s confines over the past month, as well as special guest speakers. One topic that emerged high on the meetings agenda was police officer sensitivity as it concerns their approach with men of color in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Commanding Officer’s Report: Captain Kight presented this month’s report as Deputy Inspector Juanita Holmes is on vacation:
- Year-end figures: The 81st Pct. command was up 2.2 percent this month in crimes, an additional 32 crimes over last year at this time. Crime areas of decrease include murders, rapes, robberies and felony assaults, all of which were down this month.
- “Last year, the major problem was burglaries,” said Kight. “Some outside units came in to help out. And so far, for the 28-day period, we are down 50 percent in burglaries, from December 12- January 8.”
- Robberies are 40 percent, felony assaults 40 percent. Two areas of concern are homicides. We’ve had two deaths this year in less than two weeks – one of a two-year old girl, for which no final determination has been made; no one has been charged. And also, on New Year’s day, there was a shooting homicide at 1711 Fulton Street shooting.
- The biggest problem currently is grand larcenies, which are up 14 percent. The problem we’re having right now is in an are we call “Henry, Ida and John,” from Bainbridge, south of the precinct. “We’re having a problem of theft of property, primarily cell phones, specifically iPhones,” said Kight. “Most of them are from the Fulton Street train station.”
- “At the last meeting, we discussed the likelihood that we would lose our Impact Zone unit. But last week, a command decision was made that we will keep the Impact Zone,” said Kight. The command received an additional 40 officers last week, and the Impact zone will be expanded all the way from Fulton to Atlantic Avenue
- The 81st Pct. has a joint initiative with the city’s transit department whereby they are handing out flyers to people coming out of the subways to educate them about not taking their cell phones out immediately when they exit the subways
- The precinct hosted a church service on Sunday at Nazarene Baptist Church for law enforcement that was extremely successful. Sen. Eric Adams was guest speaker, which included the Bed-Stuy Volunteer Ambulance Corps, some school safety officers and state officers.
--An audience member and Bed-Stuy resident expressed concern about an uptick in crime around his block and surrounding blocks, circa Malcolm X to Patchen/Ralph, between Macon, Decatur and McDonough. He requested more patrols.
--Another audience member asked for clarification on the new marijuana laws. In the past, an officer could stop you, frisk you, and if they found any controlled substance in your possession, including marijuana, they could arrest you. Now, the law has changed: Police officers cannot arrest you for marijuana possession if it is not out, nor can an officer force you to take it out and arrest you for having it.
--An audience member expressed great ire about a recent summons he received for reading his Bible in the park after dark, and wanted an explanation of why he was “mistreated unfairly by Bed-Stuy officers.” Patrick Beberfield: “It was a disrespect to me. We as men of color deserve the same level of respect and courtesy that is giving to anyone, whether I was an elderly woman or a Caucasian man.” He said people in the neighborhood are growing increasingly concerned about the way black and Latino males are targeted, and he asked about the tools in place to administer sensitivity training to officers.
Captain Kight: “There’s two things at play: the application of the law and the officer’s discretion. You were not supposed to be in the park after dusk. Now, whether the police officer needed to issue you a summons is up to his discretion. There’s going to be conflicts. We’re working very hard to address those conflicts. We have 270 officers, 300 different personalities and 300 different discretions. What can happen is any time these incidents happen, you can come, bring that to our attention. But as far as what you want us to be able to do at the precinct, we cannot change it.”
Another audience member: "I don't even know this brother (pointing to Beberfield), but I brought this same issue up yesterday at the community board meeting. We understand that crime may be going up in the neighborhood. But at the same time, as a black male, as a father, as a hard-working citizen and member of this community, we want to know that we will not be targeted just because we are men and we are of color. I was stopped and frisked by officers at midnight right outside my own home. It wasn't right, and I want to know what kind of measures are being put in place to insure that officers don't use us as targets while trying to do their jobs."
Catherine Arline, 81st Pct. Council President: “These discussions are important. And the fact that you (to Beberfield) brought this to the table is good. But the question comes to my mind Captain Kight, is, as part of this community, will the residents be given some sense of comfort that they can complain to officers about these sort of incidents, and know that they will be addressed in the right manner?”
Captian Kight: “If an officer receives 3 CCRBs (civilian complaints) within a year, they’re placed on special monitoring, and then they are sent back for additional training. The officers don’t want to be placed on that status, b/c they cannot be promoted or transferred to a preferred detail assignment. So there are repercussions, in addition to more sensitivity training.”
“We welcome anyone that wants to speak to our officers during roll call. As long as it’s not confrontational, we’re looking for people to come to the roll calls and do a presentation and you can explain your issue, side of the story or events. Roll call is every day at 7:05am, 3:15pm, 11:20pm.”
Another audience member: “I did do a roll call in September at 3:15. It was good; I did do a positive message. When we think about professionalism, courtesy and respect. The same people you’re worried about, we’re worried about as well.”
Arline: “The mission of the Precinct Council is to bridge the gap between the community and the police. That’s one of the reason we started the summer youth program, to give young people a different experience with police. So we started that here, and it has gone very well over the years. And some of those young people who go through the summer program, they become our youth counselors. I hope this leads us to go back to our block associations and groups and consider joining the meetings. We need greater participation and more input from residents at the precinct meetings.”