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Cops and clergy pray for crime solution

Cops from the 70th Precinct received the blessing of dozens of rabbis, imams, Protestant ministers and Catholic priests last week after Inspector Ralph Monteforte, the precinct’s commanding officer, confessed to all of the community’s sins — and victories — over the past year.

A standing-room-only crowd of religious leaders watched with rapt attention last week as Monteforte walked them through a thorough presentation on how the command is fighting the war on crime.

When looking over the CompStat figures, it seems that the 70th Precinct is doing well %u2013 overall felony crime is down 14 percent for the year and homicide numbers are quite low, Monteforte explained.

“This is the first time in this precinct’s history that we’ve seen less than seven homicides,” he told those assembled, adding they believed they had reached a milestone when the murder rate fell to seven in 2008.

As of December 6, the number had fallen to six.

The precinct has seen reductions in many other crime categories with the exception of car thefts, which jumped by 12 percent this year.

Still, the 191 cars swiped from the streets of Flatbush and Midwood this year pales in comparison to the 3,298 taken in 1990.

“We used to have six car thefts a day,” Monteforte said. “Now we have about four a week.”

Bias incidents %u2013 crimes that always catch the attention of the faithful -- are down for the year, but not by much. This year seven bias crimes have been reported. Six of the crimes were anti-Semitic, Monteforte reported, adding that many of them were committed by a lone teenager who was arrested within hours of his swastika spree. Last year, eight bias crimes were reported.

But not everything was this rosy.

Unwilling to sugar-coat his report to his congregation of clergy members, Monteforte mixed the bad in with the good.

Complaints about graffiti are way up, from 47 last year to 86 as of December 6, he said.

Shootings in the area are also dangerously high.

So far this year guns have gone off 29 times in the command. Thirty-one people have been wounded or killed as a result, he said.

Many of the shootings have been clustered around Lenox Road and Flatbush Avenue or Newkirk and Bedford Avenues, where he has created an “Impact Zone” where more cops are called in to cool these violent hot zones.

Monteforte said that the NYPD GUNSTOP program where people can earn $1000 for information about illegal firearms has been helping to stem the tide.

“There are people who do [GUNSTOP] for a living,” he said, explaining that 67 guns have been taken off the street so far this year.

“Every gun in the street can end up creating a tragedy,” he said. “But despite all that’s happened, we haven’t shot at anybody and nobody’s shot at us.”

The number of phone thefts in the command is also a cause of concern, he said.

“When people go shopping for cell phones, they’re going to you, not the store,” he said.

Monteforte hoped that religious leaders would take the snapshot he presented back to their respected flocks.

With 75 synagogues, 67 churches and nine mosques in the command, that’s a lot of people who could benefit from the many anti-crime programs and strategies the NYPD provides.

“We have the most diverse community in the U.S.,” Monteforte said. “We also have the largest amount of clergy in the city.”

Many religious leaders promised to spread the word, as well as participate in any upcoming gun buyback programs that may come down the pike.

One minister noted that it was everyone’s hope to sway neighborhood children from the criminal culture that can be found on any street in the command.

“These days our youth walk around with their pants half way pulled down,” the minister said. “It’s not the right aesthetic to have, but they get the idea when they associate with the wrong groups.”

Monteforte said that while that particular style comes to Brooklyn by way of state prisons, there’s nothing illegal about it.

“Once they get home, they pull their pants up,” he said.

But there is at least one benefit to those low hanging pants, he explained.

“When they commit crimes and run off, they fall right down,” he said. “We’re right there to pick them up.”

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