By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Crime is down overall for the year in the 13th Precinct, though it’s up for the month, mainly due to a spike in burglaries, police said on Tuesday.
Community residents got the latest stats on local crime from Lieutenant Vincent Collins, who took over the most recent Community Council meeting at the 13th Precinct. The precinct’s commanding officer, Deputy Inspector David Ehrenberg, usually gives leads the meetings, but was stuck in midtown on President Obama’s detail.
Collins said that Ehrenberg was hoping to make it back downtown before the meeting ended but he didn’t make it in time for the crime report, in which Collins noted that the precinct is still on the right track.
However, crime was up 2.8 percent for the past month with the major problems due to burglaries, which shot up by 63.6 percent for the month compared to last month. Collins noted that while grand larceny is still a frequent problem in the area, it usually drives the crime in the precinct and is down for the year by 8.2 percent. He added, as Ehrenberg has emphasized in the past, that the most prevalent crime in the neighborhood is also one of the most preventable.
“A forum like this one is so important because we can tell people, keep an eye on your property,” he said. “Car break-ins are also a problem and in this day and age, we shouldn’t have to tell people, don’t leave your $1,800 laptop sitting on the front seat. Not everyone is as honorable as we are.”
Residents often attend the community council meetings to voice concerns or complaints about noise in their neighborhood and with so many bars in the area, noise issues are a common problem. Peter Cooper Village residents Anne Greenberg and Joan Greene were at the meeting on Tuesday to voice a concern about a more seasonal noise problem: the drunken rowdiness of party-goers disembarking from boats on the East River at all hours of the night.
“They come off the boats incredibly drunk and noisy, walking in the middle of cars and walking down the middle of 23rd Street,” Greenberg said. “At this point, I’m more concerned about the drivers because they wouldn’t even know that there are people right in the street.”
She added that while it is a seasonal occurrence starting when the weather gets warmer, it’s been going on for a number of years and isn’t just once a night. “It’s a sudden uproar and it’ll go on at midnight and sometimes again at 3 a.m. I’ve never seen any police presence controlling it.”
Detective Ray Dorrian said that the precinct does have cops stationed at the boats for crowd control right when people get off but that they would send people over to check out the area.
Anthony Solomito of the Manhattan CERT was also at the meeting to raise awareness about emergency preparedness as hurricane season starts up again. He emphasized that there is a new hurricane map and said that there is a push for residents to know their zones since the system has changed. The mapped zones have changed but the zones are also numbered now, from one to six, instead of lettered.
“All the stuff they send out about evacuating doesn’t do any good if you don’t know your zone,” he said. “And you don’t want to be on your own. If they say you should get up and go, get up and go.”
Cissy Stamm, a co-founder of New York Area Assistance Dogs and a resident of East 14th Street, was also at the meeting to raise awareness for business owners on how to recognize and react to individuals with service dogs, and what to expect from emotional support dogs.
“You have the right to ask what services the dog performs,” she said. “You can’t ask what the disability is.”
She added that a special vest isn’t required for service dogs and since those can be easily purchased online, aren’t always the best way to determine if it is a service dog. “You go by the behavior of the dog and the questions that the person answers,” she said.
In addition to assisting a blind person, Stamm said that some of the answers one might expect to the question of what tasks a service dog or emotional support dog performs is for hearing impairment, diabetes alert, seizure alert, mobility alert and general medical alert.
The 13th Precinct Community Council usually meets on the third Tuesday of every month but there are no meetings in July and August. The next time the community council will gather is at National Night Out Against Crime on August 5 at the Simon Baruch Middle School playground.