By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Drunk drivers, beware.
Police Officer Nicholas Clemente of the 13th Precinct has arrested so many behind the wheel boozers recently that on Tuesday, he was recognized for his efforts. Clemente was the recipient of the February Cop of the Month award at a meeting held by the 13th Precinct Community Council.
Executive Officer Ernesto Castro, who led the meeting because Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman was out due to a personal matter, said that Clemente had made a significant number of arrests of intoxicated drivers throughout the precinct last year and so far this year.
“(Clemente) has made it his priority to ensure the safety of our motorists and pedestrians every night,” Castro said. “His job is to identify by observation or by accidents whether someone is intoxicated. In 2018, he made it a priority and he arrested 15 people for that, nine of them being from observation alone, either driving in the wrong direction or swerving or taking red lights. This year so far he’s made two valuable arrests for (driving while intoxicated) and he continues to strive toward that.”
Clemente’s arrests in the precinct also tie into the city’s Vision Zero initiative because the area in which he has made most of his arrests, on Sixth Avenue near West 23rd Street, is one of the busiest corridors in the neighborhood. Castro said that the intersection is a collision-prone location and in response to a question about whether or not any intersections in the neighborhood would be targeted by a new Vision Zero initiative, he said that this section of Sixth Avenue has been on the precinct’s radar for enforcement for a while.
“Most of the commercial activity is in that area,” he said. “(Clemente) is actually in that area and we see it in the DWIs because the clubs are in that area, coming up Sixth Avenue and that’s why he’s been so successful at addressing the drinking while driving.”
Clemente also received a Cop of the Month award last February for catching a man who robbed two women near Waterside Plaza.
In related news, crime has also been up in the precinct for the year, Castro reported, noting that there has been a 67 percent increase in felony assault and a 43 percent increase in robbery. There have been arrests in 65 percent of the assault cases and 40 percent of the robberies.
Castro said that despite the slight increases, the community policing initiative has been having a positive effect on the neighborhood and residents have been engaging with the program.
“Since the neighborhood policing philosophy has been implemented, we have seen our response to crime enhanced by timely video collection, crime prevention and communication with community members,” he said. “A lot of the times when crimes are committed in the 13th, community members are reaching out to our NCOs, especially shop owners and business owners but especially regarding Vision Zero.”
Castro noted that Neighborhood Coordination Officers have already held two meetings for the southwest and northeast sectors of the precinct and the final two are still upcoming.The meeting for sector A, which includes Stuyvesant Town, will be held on Thursday, March 7 at 6 p.m. in the Stuyvesant Town Community Center. Sector C, the northwest area in the precinct, will be holding a meeting with their NCO officers at 230 Fifth Avenue on Tuesday, February 26 at 7 p.m.