By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Five officers at the 13th precinct were honored as cops of the month at the precinct’s last community council meeting before the summer break on Tuesday, June 18. Deputy Inspector Steven Hellman said that crime in the precinct has been steadily decreasing and he said that the community policing program that launched at the precinct last October has helped.
“I attribute that to the cops on patrol and the NCO philosophy that’s driving down crime,” he said, referring to the program that assigns Neighborhood Coordination Officers to different areas in the precinct. “We had a tough year last year but we’ve been doing better.”
The first awards at the meeting went to two officers who work together as NCOs for Sector A, which covers Stuyvesant Town and Gramercy. Officers Peter Rodriguez and Manny Rodriguez caught a man on Avenue C earlier in the month after they suspected him of riding a stolen motorcycle. After the man was arrested, the officers found that he was wanted citywide for stolen motorcycles and had also been arrested for felony assault after molesting his sister.
Police Officer Colin Dowd received recognition from Hellman for recognizing a man on the street who was pictured on a wanted flyer and was suspected in a previous incident. When the man was arrested, police found that he had 80 previous convictions.
“This is the guy that’s driving our crime,” Hellman said.
Hellman also honored police officer Joe Sgroi for de-escalating a situation inside the Payless on Sixth Avenue earlier this year.
“This suspect was inside the Payless with a hammer and not only that but he also had a razor,” Hellman said. “But Officer Sgroi was able to apprehend the suspect with no shots fired and no one was hurt. That’s the theme here, with the officers taking that extra step.”
The last officer to receive the Cop of the Month honor at last month’s meeting was Police Officer Kevin Fainer for the work he did in response to a pedestrian getting hit by a truck in Union Square last month. The 74-year-old victim ultimately died but Hellman commended the work that Fainer did at the scene, noting that he helped bandage his leg well enough for him to be transported to the hospital, and talked with him during the whole ride there.
Hellman also noted at the meeting that crime was up 4% in both the last 28 day period and for the year to date.
“Grand larceny is driving our crime and shoplifting is driving grand larceny,” he said. “The crimes are not significant but they are significant criminals given their history.”
Hellman added that there have been some issues with teens from the Administration for Children’s Services facility on First Avenue but that there have been arrests with those cases.
“It’s a good service but all children who are having any kind of problems at home from throughout the city end up there,” Hellman noted of ACS. “They come from really thought childhoods and it’s a small batch of really problematic kids that are causing this.”