Board 3 Hears From Police, Fire Departments
115th Police Precinct Commanding Officer Inspector John D. Lavelle looked at the food lined up on nearby benches and said he didn’t want to delay Community Board 3’s annual holiday celebration, so he’d make his crime report quickly— though when it ran on longer than he probably intended, no one objected and a few people pressed him for more information. At the Board 3 December meeting, held at the Louis Armstrong School (I.S. 227) in Corona, a Fire Department spokesman followed Lavelle with warnings about the danger of fires generated in the home during holiday festivities, his words being aided by reams of Fire Department literature. The evening’s business concluded with a discussion of an application by a bakery for a license to serve alcohol. After a vote was taken, board members and attendees turned to the refreshments, which included sandwiches and non-alcoholic beverages.
Lavelle said that in the nearly completed year, the 115th Precinct has experienced an 8 percent decline in the rate of serious crime. Certainly, though, there were instances of crime that had an impact on his listeners. A recent double murder on 111th Street, for instance, was hard to explain, since the arrested suspect, who allegedly killed two family members, had no history of criminality. There have been two other domestic murders during the year, Lavelle said, and the total of murders of any sort is seven. The total of rapes is 31 (down from 35), with Lavelle finding rape by strangers a matter of grave concern. Felony assaults, both domestic and among strangers in area bar/restaurants, are up, he said, prompting an increased club watch by the command. There have been 19 assaults on police, 10 of them with bottles. A total of 10 shootings has yielded 13 victims. Burglaries are off 22 percent and grand larceny and grand larceny auto are also down. Twenty-five search warrants have been issued in the effort to stem drug dealing and recover stolen property. Though burglary may be down, it is still a problem, Lavelle said. “We have a lot of burglars who live in the command,” he added. Citizens can still have their apartments and residences checked for safety by precinct police upon request, he said, and recommended the procedure, observing, “You don’t get much free from the city” but this is one instance where a person will get something.
Gangs have been an issue, especially earlier in the year, he said, when there were several clashes between the Latin Kings and a gang calling itself ABK or Anything But Kings. This problem has spilled over into the 110th Precinct in Elmhurst also, and more recently a gang called the Trinitarians has joined the fray, especially against ABK. He mentioned a recent incident on 89th Street where shots were fired into a house and called it gang-related, adding that the shooters have been identified (though not picked up). Being, by estimation, between 16 and 22, they are utterly unthinking in their violent actions, he said. One man in the audience asked Lavelle about the size of these gangs. The commander said the number of Latin Kings by his count was in the 30s, ABK was at 22 or thereabout and Trinitarians were few but fierce at eight. “There has been a major decrease in people wearing colors,” he said; these days they identify themselves by sign language and bandannas. They don’t deal major drugs, he added, making “nickel and dime marijuana deals and occasional robberies”. In contrast, a recent shooting incident on Astoria Boulevard with two wounded victims involved “real” drug dealers, one of the victims being a Blood gang member from Warren Street in Brooklyn, and another from The Bronx.
The board presented Lavelle with a certificate of appreciation.
A Fire Department public affairs representative began by handing out a brochure on winter and holiday fire safety and three informational sheets about kids, candles and the kitchen, all of them in full color and on glossy stock. Among the recommendations coming from the literature are these: be sure all electrical appliances and devices have Underwriters Laboratories (UL) mark of approval; don’t cook with a turkey fryer (dangerously volatile and lacking UL approval); don’t use kerosene space heaters, which are illegal to use in the city though they can be sold here; and, be especially careful with candles if you must use them, because candle fires in local homes have tripled in recent years.
There were supposed to be three applicants for either wine/beer or liquor applications but only one showed up to face Shiv Dass of the business and economic development committee and the rest of the board, that applicant being La Gran Uruguaya Bakery at 85-06 37th Ave., in quest of a beer license. When a few board members asked more or less simultaneously, “Why beer in a bakery?” one knew the road to a vote on the matter would be contentious. The committee approved the application in advance of the meeting, but it was plain that a vocal knot of board members wasn’t so accepting. A license to serve anything alcoholic is economically understandable, said Judy Grubin, but, “We have to consider the community at large.” Replying to that, Arturo Sanchez said that Uruguayan bakeries often serve sandwiches and vegetable items and beer is traditionally an accompaniment. Michael Anthony Nardiello decried the “undercurrent of hatred” among some board members against people slightly different from them, such as Uruguayan bakery owners. Grubin replied that she resented being called intolerant and was also impatient with the constant playing of the ethnic card on behalf of the latest immigrants to Jackson Heights and Corona. Sanchez persisted, noting that the two missing applicants, places called Rancho Mateo Asadero and Salon Mexico Bar, are typical of those who are reluctant to come before the board because they are “not made to feel welcome here”. When the vote was taken, those against the application seemed to be seething but they were also outnumbered, losing 19 to nine, with one abstention.