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Gangs frustrate 60th Pct.

While police acknowledge the presence of Hispanic gangs in Brighton Beach, ridding them from the neighborhood is a more thorny issue.

“The issue is the victims don’t make complaints to bear out what we hear at the meetings,” said Captain William Taylor, executive officer of the 60th Precinct, which covers Coney Island and Brighton Beach.

Taylor and Lt. Peter O’Neil, who heads the precinct’s anti−crime team, addressed the perceived gang problem in Brighton Beach at the recent community council meeting at the stationhouse.

Both said they believe the problem exists, although the gangs are smaller and not as high−profile as, say, the nationally known Latin Kings.

Taylor said the anti−crime team divides its time between Brighton Beach and Coney Island.

O’Neil said that in May the team made 18 arrests with about half in Brighton Beach.

“We know they [gangs] are out there, but we can’t prove it if the victims don’t want to cooperate,” said O’Neil, adding that if cops don’t see the actual crime and no one presses charges, they have to let the alleged perpetrators go.

Both officers stated that they know places, such as a laundromat near Brighton 7th Street, where these gang members congregate, and police go there, sometimes giving them tickets. However, if there’s no warrant for arrest on them, the police have to let them go, Taylor said.

Other residents at the community council meeting said there are increasing problems with boarded−up buildings in the Brighton Beach area, in which homeless people are beginning to frequent as squatters.

But Bright Beach Business Improvement District (BID) Executive Director Yelena Makhnin pointed out that the vast majority of crime in the area comes from the western end of Coney Island, where police instituted an “Impact Zone,” and not from Brighton Beach.

“We’re still a very safe area with a strong shopping commercial strip that depends on customers and visitors,” said Makhnin. “It took the BID so much time to break the image of Brighton being the capital of the Russian mafia, and now we have to deal with the perception of Mexican gangs.”

Makhnin said she has spoken with the pastor at a popular Hispanic church in the area, and is resolute that the gang problem is slightly overplayed.

Some of the Hispanic residents are illegal so if authorities as well as some civic organizations believe such problems exist, perhaps they can set up an anonymous hot line to the 60th Precinct and Patrol Borough Brooklyn South, she said.

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