2016-05-04 / Front Page

New Cadets Introduced At 108th Precinct Community Council Meeting

By Thomas Cogan
The 108th Police Precinct community council’s meeting for April began with Commander Captain John Travaglia’s introduction of four Police Academy students, assigned temporarily to the command to get some first-hand experience.  He then announced a 4.7 percent decline in the volume of index crimes for the most recent 28-day period, adding that in the year thus far incidents of burglary are down 45 percent.  Complaints from the audience began with a man reporting on dope-smoking teens outside his window, followed by one about illegally-parked cars in the same vicinity.  The Cop of the Month award went to a traffic officer who is retiring.  Nick Gulotta of the Mayor’s Office had a report about a new police precinct, to be created in southeast Queens.

Officer Ysaac Zorilla, who is retiring after more than 20 years on the force, got a retirement gift by being named Cop of the Month.  Capt. Travaglia said Zorilla formerly was a traffic safety officer in Transit District 20 before coming to the 108th Precinct.  The captain, who spent many years as a traffic officer also, said that in his first 17 months as 108th Precinct commander he was heavily dependent on Zorilla and will miss him.

During the 28-day period ended April 24, there was one murder, up from none during the same period of 2015; no rapes, down from one; 18 robberies, up from 7 (a 157.1 percent rise); eight felonious assaults, down from 14; 11 burglaries, down from 15 (though during the week there were four, a 300 percent rise from just one for the same period the year before); 39 grand larcenies, up from 35; and five grand larceny auto offenses, down from 14, a significant decline (-64.3 percent).  For the year thus far, incidents of burglary have fallen 45 percent to 33 from 60, making that sharp spike in burglaries during the latest week surprising.  Capt. Travaglia said that a study of the number of robberies this year (39) showed more than 20 being committed by one perpetrator who operated in both Brooklyn and Queens and was eventually caught.

The traffic report for the year to date showed a 50 percent decline in accidents, the latest total being 114.  Injuries were down 12 percent, the captain said.  Five motorcycles were confiscated and 146 summonses were issued to errant bicyclists. 

When introducing the four police academy students, Capt. Travaglia said their assignment to the 108th Precinct for about two weeks, to give them a close experience of precinct life, is pursuant to an initiative by Police Commissioner William Bratton.  The captain said more of them may be coming to the precinct.

He called for questions, which as often as not leads to statements from the persons called on.  A resident of Berkeley Towers said he could look out his window and across 39th Drive to see young men in the playground at Windmuller Park smoking marijuana, by all appearances, and definitely playing music loudly.  The captain told him there hadn’t been similar reports received from others. The man said he would take pictures of those youth undermining the general quality of life and present them to him.  The man also complained about city agency workers who have been parking where they shouldn’t park on 52nd Street and 39th Drive, singling out as a prime offender a prison guard who works at the Tombs.  He said the man’s windows are tinted darkly enough to make seeing into the vehicle impossible.  The captain replied to that by saying his officers are told their personal vehicles cannot have such dark windows.  He said one officer was disciplined when a dark-windowed car that was discovered parked near the 50th Avenue precinct headquarters turned out to be his.

Another Berkeley Towers resident said there used to be a police car and a couple of officers at curbside by Windmuller Park, but car and officers have not been seen there since year before last.  She said she knew it was there because of a request by the Department of Parks and hoped it could be brought back.  The captain said he would try to get in touch with a Queens representative of Parks and see if it could be done.

Patrol Office Jeff Peattie, coordinator of the auxiliary police force, said he is looking for a few good men and women interested in joining it.  He said the course for recruits lasts two or three hours per week for 10 weeks, after which the commitment is to serve 12 hours per month, which amounts to 144 hours per year.

Nick Gulotta told the meeting that Mayor Bill DeBlasio has provided $70 million for the creation of a new police precinct in Queens, the 116th.  It is to be divided off from the current 105th Precinct and will cover much of southeastern Queens, which includes Springfield Gardens, Rosedale, Laurelton and Brookville.  At present, the 105th takes up 13 square miles.  Such size presents a problem of response time, though some of the precinct’s patrol officers are logging 1,000 miles per month in their vehicles.  Law enforcement at the eastern end, bordering Nassau County, is seen as insufficiently effective but should be improved when the force in the 116th has a smaller area to cover.

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