2017-05-03 / Front Page

108th Police Precinct Community Council Meeting

By Thomas Cogan
The April meeting of the 108th Police Precinct Community Council was brief and conducted before an audience that might have been larger had the weather not been so windy and rainy.  Commander Captain Ralph Forgione did not have a Cop of the Month award ceremony to honor a meritorious act of police work but did instead pay tribute to the precinct’s detective squad for performing at a continuously high level.  His crime report was mainly positive, but he said that grand larcenies are all too frequent lately.  He also described how some burglars operate.  When those in attendance had a chance to speak, a cyclist had a complaint about motorists and a motorist rejoined with a complaint about cyclists.

The meeting was held as usual at Sunnyside Community Services on 39th Street and the commander implied that the detectives who were present to accept their award were taking a break from their investigations at precinct headquarters on 50th Avenue near Vernon Boulevard.  He said that in 28 years on the force he has worked with several detective squads but none quite so skillful and dedicated as this one, whose prowess left him surprised.  Most detective squads are headed by lieutenants, he added, but this one is run by Sergeant Tommy Rouse, who accepted the plaque that cited the squad for the commendable way they went about what the captain called their quiet but effective duties.

Capt. Forgione said the crime rate declined by about 20 percent in the past month, which is obviously good, but he also said that grand larcenies have been “creeping up.”  That was noticeable in the two-thirds rise during the most recent week, to 10 occurrences, compared to six for the same week of 2016.  Despite the fact that incidents were down nearly 13 percent for the year to date, the last-minute rise bothered the commander.  He said that a great many of the offenses are automobile break-ins committed by roaming opportunists who try car doors to see if any might be unlocked and often find that some of them are.

In reply to an inquiry, he also said that burglaries are up.  Though figures show they were down in the latest weekly and 28-day reports, the year-to-date total was up by more than 50 percent, to 51 from 33.  He said that in addition to residential burglaries, there are commercial and vehicular ones too.  Of the latter he said that breaking into trucks can result in the theft of valuable tools for underground resale; and as for commercial burglaries, there was one restaurant break-in recently that was foiled by the police, who captured the burglars as they were about to depart with a lot of kitchen equipment. 

And not all residential burglars come in through the windows, he said; some will travel from door to door, ringing bells, often trying one for minutes at a time to see if anyone is at home.  If someone answers, the burglar will ask for a person, knowing the resident will tell him (or her, the captain said; several women have become active in burglary) that no one by that name lives there.  The burglar can give up on that place, but the residence where no one answers might be ripe for a break-in.

When the audience was free to bring up topics of its own, one woman said she was afraid the police were inadequately protecting bicyclists like herself from dangerous motor traffic with which they share the streets.  She cited fatalities and injuries suffered by both cyclists and pedestrians recently.  She was especially angry remembering a car-bicycle collision that “maimed” a cyclist who had been riding with others, because in the aftermath the police wound up issuing several summonses to the cyclists.   Capt. Forgione defended the police, saying his officers have issued summonses to cyclists, motorists and even pedestrians on several occasions, when issuance was called for.  He regretted the accidents  and  has tried to establish conditions that would prevent them from happening again. 

Carol Terrano, a Woodside resident and a motorist  (before the meeting began she said that if she couldn’t drive from her home to SCC on 39th Street she’d be unable to attend) said that unlike motorists, cyclists are unlicensed and free to ride all over, often carelessly and sometimes destructively.  She said one of them hit her car one day while she waited at a stoplight, causing damage that cost her $2,500 to repair.  As she has said on other occasions, cyclists ride with motorists and like them must be made to acquire licenses. 






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