Astorians gearing up for block watch
by Heather Senison
Mar 14, 2012 | 1816 views | 0 0 comments | 43 43 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Photo compliments of the office of Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (above).
Photo compliments of the office of Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (above).
The creation of a block watch program for the 114th Precinct in Astoria is underway, as Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., with the help of the Police Department, took names and ideas at an Astoria Civic Association meeting on Tuesday, March 6.

Residents can call Vallone's office, as the councilman chairs the City Council's Public Safety Committee, to sign up to be block watchers, block captains or volunteer to join the 114th Precinct's Civ Op.

The program will involve residents working in pairs to patrol or watch a designated area. Organizers are trying to secure vests, signs to put up around the neighborhood to warn off potential assailants, patrol lights for cars, radios and other security tools.

Astoria had a block watch program once before, but it was disbanded 25 years ago.

Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, who could not attend the civic meeting, said Friday that the goal of the civilian patrol is to make the community feel more secure.

At the monthly 114th Precinct Community Council meeting on Tuesday, February 28, Deputy Inspector Stephen Cirabisi said crime in Astoria was up 20 percent last month.

However, he said arrests were also up 5 percent.

Simotas said the patrol is also geared towards putting “potential criminals on notice that there are people who are patrolling and looking out for their neighborhoods.”

It would deter quality of life crimes, so police can focus on more dangerous behavior she said.

“You have people who like to steal other people's mail and commit identity theft,” which happened to her mother, Simotas said.

Currently, the unit is still in its beginning stages of development.

But Simotas said when it is established, the collaboration between the Police Department, residents and local representatives will add to the patrol's effectiveness.

“It's very important to us that the neighborhood is safe,” she said.

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