Crime rises amid 104th precinct shortage

By Billy Wood

104th Precinct in Ridgewood. Photo: Google Maps.

As Western Queens continues to be up against a rise in crime, the local precinct faces struggles of its own.

The 104th Precinct, which serves the neighborhoods of Ridgewood, Middle Village, Glendale and Maspeth, is dealing with a shortage of police officers.

At last month’s contentious 104th Precinct Community Council meeting held on Oct. 19, attendees vocalized concerns for their safety, noting the decreased police presence in the neighborhood.

“Where is the police patrol? I don’t see any police officers or cops roaming around the neighborhood,” one resident said at the meeting.

Captain Juan Moran of the 104th Precinct elaborated on the issue his precinct is facing and expressed his frustration for the lack of officers in the city as a whole.

“There’s a recruitment shortage all over the place. Unfortunately, a lot of other agencies see the value of a New York City police officer and they come here and they advise them,” he said. “I can’t tell you how many cops we, the 104th, have lost to other agencies so far this year.”

Moran also told those at the meeting that it is difficult to recruit individuals to take the exam and even more difficult for them to get through the entire process once they pass it.

Even once these new recruits are in the police force, they go to precincts based on the amount of 9-11 calls, arrests, size of the precinct and number of residents — therefore, it’s uncertain how many will go on to serve the 104th Precinct.

“In the early 2000s the Police Department had almost 41,000 uniform members. Now we’re probably below 35,000,” Moran added.

Another prong to the issue is retirement.

Due to retirement and resignation, the NYPD is expected to lose more than 4,000 officers this year, the New York Post reported.

If the trend continues, the NYPD is slated to lose more cops than they did in 2002 when 3,846 officers left following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

There are neighborhoods that have been experiencing a rise in crime and the city has been taking officers out of their precinct to help out in other areas, including the 104th Precinct.

“[The city is] shorthanded and had to take some of the police from our precinct to work the trains,” Juniper Park Civic Association president, Tony Nunziato, said at the last Town Meeting. “They also had to send some officers to One Police Plaza.”

Nunziato did praise the Guardian Angels for stepping up in their area at Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village following some crimes against the elderly on Oct. 13.

“We were invited into the neighborhood because there have been crimes that this area hasn’t seen before,” said Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels.

Sliwa has also seen more people from those communities sign up to volunteer and join the Guardian Angels.

While the rise in crime and shortage of police officers has affected this area, Sliwa knows “the spirit” of these communities won’t let the crimes continue.

According to the 104th Precinct report, this includes a 29.07 percent increase from the beginning of the year until the week of Oct. 24-30.

‘Make Compost, Not Trash,’ DSNY says

By Billy Wood

Everyone is encouraged to compost. Photo: GrowNYC.

At the beginning of this month, the Department of Sanitation kicked off the curbside composting program for all of Queens County, with pick-ups scheduled on recycling days.

Compost pertains to items such as food scraps and leaves that are thrown out, but can be put in  soil to help plants grow.

Therefore, it’s better for the environment because it makes for less waste in landfills and reduces the release of methane into the air.

“One-third of what New York residents throw out is compostable,” said Allie Gumas, senior manager of drop off and community composting at the Department of Sanitation.

“If you want to throw in your meat, diary, and other food scraps we will take that,” said Gumas. “You are giving it to us already, it is just a matter of it getting composted or not.”

DSNY’s Allie Gumas spoke at last week’s CB5 monthly meeting.

As things continue to return to how they once were pre-COVID, Gumas and others are handing out fliers and mailers to help spread the word. They want everyone to know about the composting program.

“For now, we are still supplying free brown bins to the buildings that want to start participating,” she said. “It is like when recycling was first rolled out in the late ‘80s early ‘90s because they were giving out recycling bins.”

Curbside composting is not something new to the city. It began in Staten Island in 2013. Eventually, some neighborhoods in Queens did have compost service, but due to the pandemic, the funding had to be reallocated and composting was halted.

“It is important that we do organic recycling,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of Queens Community Board 5.  “It is 30 percent of the waste stream of NYC.”

One of the biggest expenses for the Department of Sanitation is the waste export. According to The Council of the City of New York, the budget for 2022 will be increased to $448.2 million.

“We need that composting. It will save the city a lot of money and even more important is that it is important for the environment,” Giordano said.

While it is still too early to get the data on the amount of homes that are making use of the curbside composting program, the department is hoping a high number of residents are participating.

The program will be on hiatus from the last week of December through March for winter preparation.

During those months, they will look into the data to see how much yard and food waste they receive. Once they have more information they will then gauge how they should move forward with this relatively new program.

While there will be no pick-ups during those months, there will be drop-off locations throughout the city that will accept your compost.

Locally, GrowNYC offers their composting program at the Ridgewood Farmstand, located at the Ridgewood Veterans Triangle at Myrtle and Cypress Avenues. Between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. each Saturday through Nov 19., folks can bring their food scraps to the location to make compost.

For information about drop-off locations, please visit

Myrtle Ave Fall Street Festival brings locals together

By Billy Wood

The smell of different foods mixed in with the sounds of music and children walking the streets with face paint means only one thing — the Myrtle Avenue Fall Street Festival was in full force.

On Sunday afternoon, the 30-year tradition, which is organized by the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) continued their biannual event.

This is their third event held post-COVID since returning Sept. 2021.

While the events have been fun for locals and vendors the festival has yet to hit the same heights prior to the pandemic.

“The amount of vendors have gone up from 60 percent last year to 70 percent this year,” said Ted Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue BID.

He also said that many vendors have either gone out of business or had supply issues that contributed to the recent low turnouts.

While they continue to recover from the pandemic, locals still took to the street to witness the festivities firsthand. People enjoyed food from all over the world as they watched others compete in a friendly dancing contest.

The children were literally bouncing off the walls from the different types of bouncy houses on Myrtle Avenue.

“This is my first time coming to this street festival in a long time,” said Luis Condo, a local resident for over 20 years. “It is good to see my daughter enjoying herself and that things are starting to get back to normal.”

Renz enjoys seeing the community coming out and going to these street festivals because it gives locals a good taste of the different stores that are available in the area.

Although the event just ended, the Myrtle Avenue BID is already setting their sights on next year’s street festivals as they want to be back to where they once were.

Renz would like to thank all of those who came out and all of the sponsors that helped support the Fall Street Festival

“Shop local and support local,” Renz encouraged the Ridgewood community.

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