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70th Precinct: ‘Better than last year’

In terms of crime reduction, the 70th Precinct is “doing three times better than last year.”

That was the word from Deputy Inspector Ralph Monteforte, the precinct’s commanding officer, during the September meeting of the 70th Precinct Community Council.

Monteforte reminded the group gathered at Belsky House, 140 Lawrence Avenue, that last year -- with overall crime down five percent -- the precinct had won NYPD’s coveted unit citation.

As of September 27th, the precinct was down, year to date, 14.16 percent in major crimes, according to CompStat, the system the NYPD uses to track crime.

The largest decrease was in the category of rape, which has seen a 64.3 percent drop, comparing 2009 with 2008. So far, this year, there have been 10 rapes; at this point, last year, there had been 28.

Also significantly down are robberies. Year to date, there have been 285 in the 70th Precinct, compared with 391 at this point last year, for a decrease of 27.1 percent. “Those are not just numbers,” Monteforte stressed. “Every number is a person.”

There has also been a decrease of 16.7 percent in murder, year to date, with five so far in 2009, compared to six at this time in 2008.

Also way down are grand larcenies. There have been 549 so far this year, compared with 640 at this time last year, for a 14.2 percent decline.

Felonious assaults are also down, 10 percent, with 235 so far in 2009, compared with 261 at this point in 2008.

Finally, burglaries are down 5.9 percent so far in 2009, with 270 so far this year, compared with 287 at this time last year.

“The only crime in which the precinct is up,” Monteforte said, is “stolen cars.,” which falls in the category of Grand Larceny Auto. So far in 2009, 149 autos have been taken within the precinct’s confines; last year, at this time, 138 had been stolen, for an increase of eight percent.

While shootings aren’t tracked as part of CompStat’s profile of the seven major crime categories, they are clearly important, and the precinct keeps a close watch on them. So far, this year, there have been the same number of shooting incidents, 18, as there were last year at this time. However, the number of victims is fewer: 21, this year, compared to 24, last year.

The number of gun homicides is also lower this year: five in 2009, compared to seven at this point in 2008. In addition, both years show a dramatic drop in the number of shootings from the two previous years, which each had 26 shooting incidents at this point in the year, with 36 victims in 2007 and 30 victims in 2006, though the number of gun homicides was lower in 2007 (four) and higher in 2006 (eight).

Particular attention is being paid to the precinct’s transportation hubs. According to information supplied by Monteforte during a PowerPoint presentation to the community council, so far this year over 3,800 “directed visits” have been made to the subway stations within the precinct’s catchment area, the vast majority by precinct personnel. The most visited station in the precinct is the one at the Junction, which has had 761 police visits so far this year.

The second most visited station is Newkirk Avenue on the Brighton line, which as of the date of the meeting had received 636 cop visits, followed closely by Church Avenue on the Brighton line, with 587 visits, and Avenue M, on the Brighton line, with 548 police visits.

While the efforts of the precinct’s police officers are key to its success in reducing crime, the participation of area residents is vital, Monteforte noted. “One of the reasons why the precinct is so safe is because of civilians,” he told one woman, urging her to form a block association on the street where she lives.

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