By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Crime was down 4 percent in 2014 for the 13th precinct, Deputy Inspector David Ehrenberg reported at the community council’s first meeting of the year on Tuesday evening. Additionally, while grand larceny has made up 80 percent of the crime in the precinct, those numbers are dropping as well. The year has seen a 22 percent decrease for the crime so far. Overall crime for the year is also down 26 percent in the precinct.
Although crime was down for the precinct overall last year, there were increases last year in specific areas, including robberies, burglaries and felony assaults, with 17 percent, 30 percent and 43 percent increases respectively. All of those crimes have seen decreases since the beginning of this year, though, with the biggest decrease in burglaries, with a 66 percent drop.
Ehrenberg said that the increase in felony assaults last year was primarily due to attacks on EMTs and doctors at the many hospitals in the precinct, but he added that there has been a slight increase in street violence.
“In most cases, it has been verbal disputes that escalated,” he said. An assault can be escalated to a felony if a weapon is involved, but Ehrenberg noted that the weapons involved in most of the felony assaults in this precinct were items found on the street, such as garbage cans, rather than a weapon like a loaded gun or a knife.
Captain Steve Hellman, who focuses on traffic in the precinct, said that thanks to Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero campaign, traffic incidents are down in the precinct in every category, including fatalities for both last year and this year so far.
Captain Ron McCall from Transit District 4 also paid a visit to the community council to offer residents advice on how to stay safe on the subway. He reminded residents to hold their bags in front of them, especially on crowded trains, and to be wary of other straphangers bumping shoulders because it could be a distraction tactic.
“If you’re using cell phones and iPads on the subway, look up and don’t sit near the doors,” he added. One woman featured in the T&V blotter recently could have used this advice, as she was the victim of a phone snatching by a group of teens who grabbed her iPhone just as the subway doors were closing, leaving her phoneless on the train and the teens on the platform with her device. The teens were later arrested, but McCall noted that prevention is easier than solving the crime.
One resident asked McCall if the MTA is doing anything about cracking down on the groups of teens who come on the subway, yell “Showtime!” and proceed to do an elaborate dance routine.
“The kid was very athletic but it’s very intrusive,” the resident said, noting that a fellow commuter almost got kicked in the face by one of the dancers.
McCall assured the residents at the meeting that the MTA has been working on curbing this activity for the last two years, but noted that they’re not affiliated with any gangs and are not dangerous.
“Unless they miscalculate,” he added.
He said that they are actively going after them and have been working with the MTA to find the kids public spaces for them to perform.
“They’re not criminals,” he said.
The cop of the month was supposed to be honored at the meeting on Tuesday, but Inspector Ehrenberg said that he was currently working in Times Square, so they would save the award for the next meeting when the officer could be present and tell the story himself. Detective Ray Dorrian briefly explained why the cop was being honored and it was because of an incident two weeks before Christmas when he saved a choking baby.