2015-10-07 / Front Page

108th Pct. Reviews COMPSTAT Report

By Thomas Cogan

At the first 108th Police Precinct Community Council meeting after the summer break, Commander Captain John Travaglia said that the latest COMPSTAT statistics sustain the belief that crime continues to trend down.  In the statistics for the 108th Precinct up to September 27, rape and grand larceny auto ran counter to the trend, at least in certain periods.  During the audience participation segment, complaints from Long Island City to Woodside covered familiar topics and uncovered strong opinions.  The Cop of the Month ceremony is usually conducted early in the meeting, but the captain reserved it as one of the final items.  Also, the two attorneys from District Attorney Richard Brown’s office, who will observe the coming year’s meetings, were introduced.  

Rape and grand larceny auto were two index crimes that bucked the general downtrend, according to Captain Travaglia’s  crime  report.  For the year 2015 to date, there were 13 rapes within the precinct, up from 11 in the same period of 2014.  For both 2015 and 2014 up to late September, grand larceny auto produced the same number, 108.  But in 2015, in the 28-day period comprising the end of summer and the first few days of autumn, the GLA number was up sharply, from 2014’s 13 to this year’s 19.  The captain said the year thus far has seen a high number of motorcycle thefts, 24, with 15 of them taken during the summer.  He said 11 of them were stolen in Gantry Park, by the East River.  Evidently, many have been lifted into vans by thieves on the hunt for them, the captain said, adding that Yamaha was the brand most stolen. 

When the captain accepted questions and complaints, a man from Review Avenue, a prime street in the old Long Island City industrial area, said that Silvercup Studios has lately been setting up film shoots there without a permit.  He said also that newspaper distribution vans have driven wildly on Review, striking some parking vehicles and inflicting great damage on them.  A bicyclist said he is often blocked from using the bike lanes on 44th Drive by trucks that double-park there.  He said he is driven into the hazards of vehicle traffic on the busy street and wondered if parking tickets have been issued as they should be.  He was told that traffic officers have issued about 150 tickets recently to drivers of double-parked vehicles. 

A woman cyclist said that coming from Manhattan on the bicycle lane of the Queensboro Bridge has become perilous in the afternoon rush, apparently because traffic cops on the Queens side pay so much attention to cars and trucks they become mindless of the possibility that cyclists might be coming off the bridge ramp and into traffic.   Those cyclists often encounter drivers who are also inattentive.   Though they are legally allowed there, cyclists find themselves ignored and endangered, the woman contended.  On the other hand, one inquirer asked if cyclists are being ticketed for their wrongdoings, such as going the wrong way in traffic or using sidewalks as their roadways or transfer routes.  Captain Travaglia replied that 44 summonses were issued in the latest 28-day period and several hundred have been issued this year. 

A man from Berkley Towers in Woodside described a week-old incident that still had him agitated.  One early evening, a motorcyclist seemed to lose control on the street in front of the apartment houses, before crashing into a parked automobile and inflicting serious damage.  The biker fled, apparently unaware he had dropped his mobile phone, which was picked up by a young man who gave it to the police when they responded to a call, made by the man relating the story at the precinct meeting.   However, they didn’t arrive until the next morning, the man said.  That evening, the biker and some friends came to Berkley Towers and demanded return of the biker’s phone.  Hearing that the telephone was in the hands of the police, biker and friends became aggressive.  The police were again called and, the man related, were again slow to respond, though before they did the bikers left without further disturbance.  The man grew so critical of police response time that Captain Travaglia seemed a bit compare annoyed at his attitude and Lieutenant Cermeli of the precinct offered a general description of his procedures in the vicinity of Berkley Towers.

The Laurel Hill Boulevard-58th Street junction was the subject of new complaints about parked vehicles.  The captain said the problem is that some truck drivers compare the price of garage parking for their large vehicles and the amount charged on parking tickets and decide the latter is more tolerable.  He said also that construction workers from out of state drive their vehicles to work in Woodside but car pool home to, say, Pennsylvania to cut down on the expense of tolls while their work projects are in progress.

The Cop of the Month was Patrol Officer Hassan Raza, who on Friday, September 11 was sent out to investigate a report of automobile stripping, the plundering of small but valuable parts, such as headlights.  P.O. Raza went out and discovered a young man on a bicycle, bearing a large backpack.  He called to him and the man took off.  Raza gave chase and the man lightened his load by dropping the backpack.  An inspection of the pack revealed several auto mirrors, ranging in value, Capt. Travaglia said, from $50 to $700.  The alleged thief was later apprehended.  When receiving his plaque, Raza told the attendees that he joined the force five and a half years ago and really likes his job.

This year’s new attorneys from D.A. Brown’s office are Graham Amadeo and Catherine McCabe, who monitored the meeting and will monitor later ones.

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