At the Woodhaven Residents' Block Association Town Hall meeting last week, a community member said that she constantly witnesses drugs being dealt and cited the recent rape of a young woman in the neighborhood. Another resident who just moved to Woodhaven said he had his motorcycle stolen.
“At the end of the day residents who have just moved to Woodhaven or have been here for 50 years, you have a right to live in a safe community,” said Councilman Eric Ulrich.
In the past, Ulrich has allocated funding for cameras in high-crime areas. He also proposed another crime-fighting tactic he said was shot down by the former 102nd Precinct commander.
“I actually wanted to get the Guardian Angles on Jamaica Avenue at night,” he said. “Maybe [the commander] didn’t want to look bad to his bosses.”
Ulrich said a number of store owners have approached his office and said that they have to stay open later to make money, but fear being robbed at night.
“It’s nice that the auxiliary comes once or twice a week and the cop car comes up and down the avenue, but they are not here all the time and there is no presence,” he said. “The Guardian Angles was an idea I had and maybe we can revisit that, especially in this area.”
Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents' Block Association, thinks a patrol unit is a good idea, but is looking for community members to be more involved.
“There have been discussions about restarting civilian observation patrols here in Woodhaven,” he said. “We’ve had some plans on how this could work, but there is one thing that is needed and that’s people. You can’t have a civilian observation patrol without civilians.”
Wendell made it clear that participants in the program would not be “Starsky and Hutch,” but would rather be observing and reporting.
“You’re not going to be in a car by yourself, and you’re not going to be the only car out there,” said Wendell. “We’ll receive training and it will be done with the NYPD.”
Wendell said he has broached the subject with the 102nd Precinct captain, who was open to the idea.
However, when a show of hands was taken to gauge who would be willing to give up one night a month to patrol the streets, the numbers were few.
“If we can’t muster up enough people to come out on civilians patrol, than we deserve what we get,” said Wendell.