2016-07-13 / Front Page

All Quiet In The 108th Pct. Reported Before Summer's Break

By Thomas Cogan

As with other local organizations, the 108th Police Precinct Community Council’s season comes to an end each June, resuming in September.  There were fewer than three days left this June when the council met to hear the newly-promoted commander read a crime report and present awards for a cop of the month and two auxiliary officers.  One or more future award winners might be found among six police academy graduates whose assignment to the command was announced.  When the meeting was opened to the audience, residents living near Windmuller and Doughboy Parks in Woodside had complaints and concerns for the commander, who for the first time replied to them as Deputy Inspector John Travaglia.

D.I. Travaglia said that in the previous 28 days the index crime rate generally had been flat.  There were no murders or rapes. The burglary count was down by one incident for the month but by 37 percent for the year to date, when 54 occurred within precinct limits.  Grand larcenies have been few lately but for the year thus far are up by a significant 37 percent.  During the last four weeks there were 12 stolen car reports, up from nine for the same period of 2015.  He said he was hopeful that July and August would not bring increases in the grand larceny auto (GLA) rate.  As for automobile accidents, they were down in number for the recent month and the year to date. 

Six new graduates of the police academy in the Bronx were assigned to the precinct and put on patrol immediately, the commander said.  Asked about the current strength of manpower in the command, he declined to reveal it beyond an approximation combining civilians and officers, which he said fell between 240 and 250.

When he asked for questions from the audience, the first one came from a woman who welcomed the opening of the pool in Doughboy Park but worried about some of the visitors.  The pool should be fun for children but they shouldn’t have to share the comfort stations with homeless persons who come in to use them, she said.  Another woman said she called precinct headquarters to complain about noisemaking outside her window, saying that the woman at headquarters replied by hanging up on her.  The commander apologized to the neighborhood woman for the rudeness of the woman at headquarters.

The neighborhood woman also said she has seen and smelled marijuana being smoked by kids loitering on the handball court in the park.  Ellen Kang, a member of Community Board 2, said she too has caught the aroma of marijuana in the air.  These days, D.I. Travaglia said, possession of marijuana is a mere violation and smoking it in public only a misdemeanor.  He added that while his men might refrain from busting teenagers discovered turning on, believing there are greater offenses to be dealt with, Jason Jones, head of the state police on guard at Gantry Park, has been stepping up enforcement against pot smokers down by the East River and delivering those he’s apprehended to the 108th Precinct station house.

Perhaps the strongest noise complaint came from a man bewailing Sunday afternoon music transmitted through huge speakers at Mamajuana Café, 33-15 56th St. near Broadway in Woodside.  He said it overwhelms everyone in his neighborhood until it’s turned down or off each Sunday evening about 9:00.  Ellen Kang responded to him also, saying that restaurants such as Mamajuana Café must come before community boards such as CB 2 for review and renewal of licenses, where careless behavior could carry a serious cost for them.  Also, places where alcoholic beverages are served must periodically appear before the State Liquor Authority.  D.I Travaglia said the SLA is often more effective in controlling behavior at bar/restaurants than the local police precinct.    

The commander presented the Cop of the Month award to someone who was promoted the same day he was.  He called the newly-named Captain Jonathan Cermeli an exceptionally selfless person who “really knows people.”  The new captain has been at the 108th Precinct longer than D.I. Travaglia, though he said he has learned a lot from the current commander.  Capt. Cermeli said his next order of business is to take a captain’s leadership course.  He said he expects to be reassigned by the end of July.

There were also awards for two auxiliary police officers.  The commander turned the ceremony over to Patrol Officer Jeff Peattie, who presented the Auxiliary Patrol Officer of the Year award to A.P.O. Yesinia Rojo and the Auxiliary Sergeant pf the Year award to Aux. Sgt. Daniel Flaherty.  P.O. Peattie said A.P.O. Rojo has applied to join the regular police force in Miami.  He said too that in May his Auxiliaries, a voluntary force, put in nearly 600 hours of service.  

This year’s National Night Out Against Crime will be held Tuesday, August 2 at Torsney Playground, Skillman Avenue and 43rd Street.


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