BY JASON COHEN
The NYPD’s top cop came to Forest Hills this past week to discuss citywide crime statistics. On May 16, Police Commissioner James O’Neill told members of the 112th Precinct Community Council during the group’s monthly meeting that crime was on the decline in the five boroughs.
O’Neill was joined by Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and 13 new graduates from the police academy.
The commissioner said that while the perception of police has been poor in recent years across the nation, now is a great time to be a cop in New York City. He noted that crime is low, body cameras will be implemented by the end of the year and cops are increasingly using social media to interact with their communities.
“Things in the city right now are good, and when I speak, I don’t just speak about things in the NYPD, but things in New York City,” O’Neill said. “[In] 2017, we haven’t seen crime numbers like this since the early 1950s, and that’s a good thing. We had 292 homicides last year in New York City—292 too many, of course, but look back at 1990. There were 2,245 homicides in this city.”
O’Neill noted that crime was rampant across the city during the 1970s and 1980s, but Mayors David Dinkins and Rudy Giuliani took new approaches that resulted in crime dropping. Dinkins hired 6,000 new cops in 1992 and Giuliani appointed Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, who helped clean up the streets.
The commissioner also praised the work of the 112 Precinct and its commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Robert Ramos, as well as Deputy Chief Juanita Holmes, who is the commander of Patrol Borough Queens North.
“Rob continues to do a great job in the 112th, and Juanita is doing a great job out here in Queens North,” he remarked. “Her dedication, not only to the men and women of the NYPD, but to the people of the city, and her ability to establish relationships in the community and build on those relationships, is really something special.”
Ramos and Holmes were also cited for helping to bring a halt to mailbox theft in the community. On May 11, three men were observed allegedly stealing a mailbox at Yellowstone Boulevard and 67th Road. A 30-year-old Bronx man was arrested in the incident and two others suspects are still at large.
Two weeks ago, two individuals were arrested for allegedly stealing mail out of a U.S. Postal Service box near 63rd Drive and Booth Street in Rego Park.
O’Neill said that Rego Park and Forest Hills are also plagued by phone scams. As the communities have large populations of senior citizens, local residents have fallen victim to these types of scams, Holmes said.
“It is an ever evolving problem,” she said. “I always say I don’t like any crime, but grand larceny is high in the city now. It is better than robberies, shootings and homicides, but it’s still crime.”