Police Officer Nicholas Clemente with Executive Officer Ernesto Castro at the 13th Precinct Community Council meeting (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
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.”
Vision Zero, the mayor’s traffic safety initiative, was the subject of a discussion between the mayor and local seniors at the Stein Center on Monday.
The mayor made a last minute appearance at the center, alongside State Senator Brad Hoylman.
Hoylman is also trying to push the agenda in Albany, where many of the city’s traffic regulations are ultimately decided.
However, prior to the discussion (which was closed to press) Hoylman noted there is the chance the mayor could face some political pushback in Albany on traffic safety from Senate Republicans. This would be keeping in tradition with some political payback for the mayor’s effort in 2014 to flip the Republican-controlled Senate.
“We shouldn’t have to go to Albany every time we want to change the speed limits,” said Hoylman. Meanwhile, he added, “More people are killed by (traffic accidents) than a gun.”
The senator said he is trying to get more speed cameras and lower speed limits in more areas, in particular in front of more schools. Another goal is to get large trucks to install side guards to protect pedestrians.
Deputy Inspector David Ehrenberg gives the latest local crime stats at Tuesday’s 13th Precinct Community Council meeting. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
In the first 13th precinct community council meeting after the summer break, the precinct’s commanding officer, Deputy Inspector David Ehrenberg reported that after a mostly uneventful season, crime is up 5.2 percent this month. However, he added that crime is down for the year overall.
Grand larcenies, traditionally a problem for this area, were up this month but are also down 7 percent for the year and decreased during the summer, Ehrenberg said.
Identity theft is the most common type of grand larceny and the deputy inspector noted that the precinct is still having problems with thieves stealing debit card information with card scanners taped over ATMs.
When a resident at the meeting inquired about the bank’s awareness of the problem in their own ATMs, Ehrenberg added that they weren’t necessarily at fault for missing it.
“The skimmers are only on the ATM for a very short period of time, for about an hour,” he said. “They’re usually put on later in the evening after the bank was closed already so they wouldn’t always notice.”
Ehrenberg emphasized that residents should call 911 when they encounter one of these skimmers, which are easily recognizable because they are flimsy and attached with double-sided tape.
Felony assaults have also been a problem this summer but Ehrenberg noted that in most cases, the fights involved people that knew each other. The increases are also due to assaults of EMTs at Bellevue and the shelters in the area. Grand larceny auto is also up, with nine cars being stolen within the precinct this month, compared to six that had been stolen by the same point last year. Ehrenberg noted that there seems to be a trend there and that it’s mostly rental cars that are getting swiped.
“There’s a way they can overcome the security system that Zipcar uses,” he said. “There’s another way they can use the device to get in and steal the cars. It’s a popular system and it’s going to take them a while to change it, so we’re seeing an increase in that in the command.”
He added that residents don’t have to worry so much about a car they have rented being stolen because most of these incidents have occurred in the locations where the cars are picked up.
As in the past, grand larceny of unattended property continues to be a problem for the precinct.
“There are still a lot of laptops being left in restaurants and coffee shops. You’re not going to leave $2,000 in cash just sitting there, so don’t leave your laptop,” Ehrenberg warned.
Residents at the meeting were curious about the impact of the mayor’s Vision Zero plan, which was introduced over the summer. Captain Steven Hellman noted that since Mayor de Blasio has been in office, the precinct has seen decreases in collisions this summer. There is currently an arterial slow zone on Seventh Avenue and Sixth Avenue will be a slow zone this December.
As in most community council meetings in the past, residents also expressed their frustrations about cyclists who don’t follow the rules of the road, often riding on sidewalks and without lights at night.
One Stuyvesant Town resident said that he’s been seeing delivery people riding their bikes recklessly near his building at 21 Stuyvesant Oval.
“You’re going to find a body in 20 different pieces due to these bicyclists,” the resident said. “They’re like kamikazes coming around the curve behind 21 Oval. Someone is going to get killed on the bottom of the hill. Pedestrians are getting less safe.“
Police Officer John Sedita said that the NYPD has a good relationship with Stuyvesant Town’s Public Safety officers and would talk to them about the issue. Another resident, though, had a suggestion for those two-wheeled officers as well.
“Remind Stuy Town security that they need lights on their bikes, too,” the resident, who didn’t want to be identified, said at the meeting.