2017-06-07 / Front Page

108th Pct. Meeting Reviews Crime Stats

By Thomas Cogan
At the May meeting of the 108th Police Precinct Community Council, held at Sunnyside Community Services last week, Commander Captain Ralph Forgione said that the early weeks of 2017 were heavy with criminal activity but the situation had become better since then.  Since the last meeting, for instance, the total crime count was lower by a dozen incidents.  A rare case of rape was reported but the alleged victim recanted.  The captain related some crime stories, including a case that was handled by the Cop of the Month, and another about a tireless perpetrator on a crime spree that got him arrested both inside and outside the city.  The captain also said that an indignant audience gave him a rough time at a community meeting in Hunters Point; but at the 108th meeting he was praised for cracking down on continual parking violations in Woodside.

The Cop of the Month was Patrol Officer Hassan Raza, who was on early morning duty Friday, May 19 when he and his partner were informed of a call that had come in from someone who reported seeing a man wandering in the vicinity of 65th Street and 50th Avenue in Woodside, trying the door handles of parked cars to see if any door could be opened.  A description of the man was also supplied.  The two officers headed to the area and upon arriving did see a man resembling the description they had heard.  He appeared to be trying to open car doors, just as reported, so they stopped him, asked some questions and searched him.  Finding a credit card that evidently was not his, they arrested him.  The card was later traced to a nearby car and its owner.  The suspect had been arrested two days previously on a similar charge.  On the night of the meeting, P.O. Raza arrived a little late but in plenty of time to receive his Cop of the Month plaque.

Before the award ceremony, Capt. Forgione spoke of an arrest in Brooklyn South of two men who were allegedly on the run from a street robbery in the 108th Precinct.  The robbery victim had reported the hold-up, adding a description of two men that was transmitted to a precinct in Brooklyn.  It led to the apprehension of the two suspects.  The captain also described the rambling adventures of a man who began by robbing not just any car but a patrol car from the 108th Precinct.  He too was arrested in Brooklyn and was released after being put on schedule for a court appointment—and from there his exploits continued. 

Being temporarily free, he moved on to the next phase.  He stole a box truck and drove it to Major World, the automobile dealership on Northern Boulevard, east of 43rd Street.  There, he used the truck to force a parked van out of the way and drove into the lot.  He broke into the Major World office and came away with a few valuables before taking another prize, a Nissan sedan that must have seemed less of an attraction than a box truck with plenty of identification on it.  He drove the car to Nassau County, reports of his activities following him.  Nassau police tracked him down and made an arrest.  At the time of the meeting, the captain said he was awaiting his extradition.

He also reported an experience of his own, when he was subjected to a lot of criticism earlier in May in Hunters Point, where he faced an audience of residents distressed by conditions and situations in the waterfront parks.  He said he had a

later appointment and used it as an excuse to take leave of the angry locals.  Carol Terrano, a Woodside resident who has previously complained that issues where she lives are often subordinated to issues in Hunters Point and other parts of Long Island City, praised the commander for the way he attacked the problem of truck drivers that use Tyler Avenue and other Woodside roadways as overnight parking spots for their large vehicles.

Capt. Forgione said he has gone after such objectionable activity not only in Woodside but also in Long Island City.  In recent weeks he has been putting pressure on businesses located on Borden Avenue and nearby streets, trying to get them to park their vehicles—even double-park them—on one side of the street and in a uniform direction, in contrast to parking them randomly on either side, leaving only a thin channel in the middle for two-way traffic.  He said he has thus far had about 60 percent success, though the other 40 percent is proving difficult.

The meeting closed with what several local meetings and occasions have included recently:  a tribute to Gert McDonald, a Sunnyside woman whose civic activities in Sunnyside and Queens took up a good eight decades of her life, which ended Sunday, May 21, a few weeks short of her 101st birthday.  Capt. Forgione cited her remarkability, then yielded to Diane Ballek, the head of the precinct’s community council, who talked about the great effect she had on everyone who knew her.  While it is standard to say that someone who has just died will be missed, it’s obvious from the reaction to her death that Gert McDonald is greatly missed now and will continue to be.


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