2015-03-18 / Front Page

108th Police Precinct's Commander Captain John Travaglia Comes To Hunters Point Civic Meeting

By Thomas Cogan

The Hunters Point Civic Association welcomed Commander Captain John Travaglia of the 108th Police Precinct to its March meeting, held at the New York Irish Center on Jackson Avenue.  The captain has been precinct commander since mid-November and has addressed meetings such as Community Board 2 and this one since taking office, as well as presiding over the precinct’s monthly community council meetings.  He has expressed great enthusiasm for the command from the start, going so far at the Hunters Point meeting as to say that his situation is like “the cream in the middle of an Oreo cookie.”  He reviewed some of the crimes committed recently, bringing some of their accounts up to date before he took questions.  Aside from the commander’s address, there was a call for donors to an early April blood drive.

The captain repeated the news that there has been a 25 percent drop in index crimes thus far in 2015.  Of those crimes he said that one, a February 23rd bank robbery at the New York Community Bank in the strip mall on Queens Boulevard near 58th Street was foiled in a matter of minutes and an arrest was made.  He went over the Cop of the Month stories for January and February, which in January entailed quick police work to aid, and ultimately save the life of, a stricken teacher lying on the sidewalk in front of La Guardia Community College; and in February a fast response to an incident on 21st Street near 43rd Avenue that resulted in arrests and aiding a victim who had been shot twice.  He provided an update on the February report of battery thefts from hybrid automobiles.  There were 11 such thefts at the time a suspect was recently arrested.  Though the commander has evidence of only one theft, he said he’d like to see if the number moves now that the person who might have stolen all of them is in custody.  

“I like to think I have the best officers there are,” he said, having earlier said that every day he has to “marvel at the devotion” shown by the officers in his command.  He praised the community too, calling it his best resource.  He said he could never get to know the streets of the community as well as those who live there and convey information to him.

In the question period, a woman whose avocation is to tend the garden in Murray Playground, at 21st Street and 45th Road, asked if something could be done about drifters who use the playground at night as a place for drinking and students from Informational Technology High School who use it by day to relax and smoke marijuana.  A man living in City Lights lamented that Gantry Park is insufficiently policed.  That situation is aggravated by some confusion about who should police it, since Gantry is a state park, supposedly covered by state police.  The man only wished that 108th Precinct officers would occasionally pay visits to the park and other seldom-visited spots to check on their well-being, which was largely the woman’s wish also.

Sam Vargas, from Community Board 2, asked about found weapons, saying that he has heard from those who, for whatever reason, have firearms in their possession and would like to turn them in but fear leaving themselves open to police investigation.  Capt. Travaglia said that anyone wishing to turn in a weapon to police should inform 911 and wait for officers to arrive.  They want only the weapon, he said, not any story connected to it, so they ask no questions.  A woman complained about drones, saying she sees the little ones flying around her neighborhood and is worried that bigger ones may soon follow.  Capt. Travaglia said he was at a drone conference last summer and came away from it believing there should be laws governing their use.

Parking complaints were brought up too, targeting even the police for the many spaces they take up near the 50th Avenue headquarters.  The commander said he tried to improve that a little by relinquishing his own parking spot and that of the executive officer.  He said they were two spaces that were more needed by other officers, to carry out such duties as transporting prisoners.  As an epitome of what he wishes to do as a police officer, Capt. Travaglia said, “I want to be the guy who bothers the right people,” not merely the guy who is bothersome.    

John Dallaire of the LIC-Astoria Lions Club announced that there is to be a blood drive Monday, April 6 from 5:00-9:00 p.m. at the Avalon Riverview apartment house, 4-75 48th Ave.  “There is no substitute for blood,” he said; when you need it, nothing else will do.  He asserted that only 2 percent of those eligible to give blood actually give it.  If that percentage were a little higher, there would be no need to plead for participation, he said.  Those who qualify for eligibility must weigh at least 110 pounds and be between 16 and 75 years of age.  Any tattoos must be at least a year old.  Just before giving blood, eat only low-fat foods and drink plenty of liquids.  For further information, call John Dallaire at 646-245-3007.  


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