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Cops and the clergy team up

A half-dozen local priests, rabbis and pastors flocked to the 69th Precinct last week for a special group discussion with head Canarsie crime-fighter Captain Milt Marmara.

During the Tuesday afternoon sit-down, the assemblage received first-hand information about current crime-fighting tactics in the community, and were welcomed to be part of the larger 69th Precinct e-mail community, which receives routine updates about incidents of note in the neighborhood and community events.

This was the first time that Marmara had a meeting with clergy members since taking charge of the 69th Precinct in the spring, although he has met with the clergy members in person before.

The captain said that the meeting with clergy members was to include them, as well as their respected flocks, into a growing partnership of community crime-fighters.

“It’s not just the cops, it’s the cops and the community… all of us working together that will make a difference,” he said. “The meeting brought us closer to the people in the neighborhood who are close to the community. We are also giving them more access to the police.”

“[The clergy] reach a lot of people and they get a lot of complaints from people who may feel intimidated by the police,” he said. “We want the clergy to feel comfortable about reaching out to us. We also want to understand their problems and concerns, so if something happens, we understand what is going on and handle it.”

Marmara and his community affairs staff spent the Tuesday meeting listening intently to clergy leaders concerns about noise, drugs, and concerns about recent increases in robberies, burglaries and car thefts in the area.

Recently released CompStat numbers show that crime in the 69th Precinct is up by 1.8 percent as of October 5.

While the precinct is currently seeing a fourteen percent increase in both robberies and car thefts and a ten percent increase in burglaries, Marmara feels that he and his officers have a handle on the up-tick in crime that started over the summer.

“We’re definitely bucking the trend,” he recently told members of the 69th Precinct Community Council. “We had an up-tick in robberies over the summer, but over the last month, we’ve seen a 30 percent reduction in robberies. We’ve had seventeen robbery arrests in recent weeks. We’re catching these guys on the streets and getting as much information we can to make more arrests.”

Also making an appearance during the Tuesday meeting was Assemblymembers Alan Maisel and Helene Weinstein, who updated clergy leaders on news in Albany, as well as community projects.

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