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When you’re a victim of a crime, every moment waiting for the police can be torture.
Waiting 27 minutes for a response is a living hell.
That’s the best way to describe how Bergen Beach resident Robert Devita and his family felt back on September 4 as they painstakingly waited for cops from the 63rd Precinct to aid their 15-year-old son who was beaten and mugged on East 71st Street near Avenue U.
But no cops showed for nearly a half hour, they said -- mostly because officers from the widespread command were responding to a shooting in Marine Park.
“We were in shock,” Devita told this paper this week after learning that not only had the 63rd Precinct focused all of its attention on Marine Park that night, but that there were only a handful of sector cars in operation on the night in question.
The sad, sobering news came during a loud and often heated 63rd Precinct Community Council meeting at the Kings Plaza Community Room, where Devita went toe to toe with Captain Patricia McDonald, the precinct’s new executive officer.
“I can’t imagine this,” he said, perplexed. “This is a huge precinct and there were only a few cars protecting it at that time? There’s one shooting in Marine Park and we get no coverage?”
Devita said that his son was walking home that Friday night when he was set upon by “a group of 10 or 12 suspects.”
The thieves beat and tried to rob the teen, but scattered when a resident heard what was going on and came out and screamed at them.
“A woman yelled and they ran,” Devita said, adding that his son was bruised pretty badly, but not seriously harmed.
“He looked like a boxer who went 15 rounds,” he said. “It could have been much worse, but they [the thieves] didn’t have enough time.”
Witnesses called 911. The call obviously went through because two ambulances were at the scene before a patrol car rolled up on them.
Yet when the cops did arrive, things moved pretty quickly. Responding officers managed to round up and arrest a handful of the suspects in short order. One of the teenage thieves was already on probation, Devita was told.
Despite the fact that arrests were made, Devita and his family, as well as his neighbors, were shocked by the poor response time.
Close to a dozen neighbors made their displeasure clear at the 63rd Precinct as they demanded more police protection for the area.
Cops said that the precinct is covered adequately and said that they had to investigate Devita’s response time claims, which they knew nothing about until the council meeting.
“We’re going to review the 911 logs, it could be that this call could have been dispatched several minutes after it was made,” said a source at the 63rd Precinct. “The response time could actually be 12 or 11 minutes, although that is still nine minutes too slow.”
City Councilmember Lew Fidler said that response times will continue to degrade “until we get the number of police officers we need.”
Since the NYPD allocates more officers to problem precincts, “good neighborhoods like ours get punished,” he said.
Fidler encouraged the 63rd Precinct to improve its response times as soon as possible.
“We never want to hear that it took 27 minutes for the police to respond to a violent crime,” he said.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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