Thursday, October 29, 2009

November 2009 Meeting

Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, our next meeting will be on Wednesday, November 18th, 2009 at 7:30 PM in the United Cerebral Palsy of New York City's Community Room at 175 Lawrence Avenue.

September 2009 Meeting Minutes

70th Precinct Community Council
September 2009 Meeting Minutes


Wednesday, September 30, 2009
7:30 PM

140 Lawrence Street, Brooklyn, New York

Officers Present

Ed Powell, President
Beverley Kilpatrick, Vice President
Rosanne Boland, Treasurer
Mary McRae, Recording Secretary
Nathan Thompson, Corresponding Secretary
Mavis Theodore, Sergeant-at-Arms

NYPD, Elected Officials & Other Guests

Inspector Ralph Monteforte, Commanding Officer
Captain Peter Venice, Executive Officer
Lt. Jacqueline Bourne, Community Affairs
Doris Ortíz, District Manager, Community Board 14
Harvey Rosenholtz, Council Member Kendall Stewart
Shaun Campbell, Assembly Member Jim Brennan
Roz Sokol for Assembly Member Steven Cymbrowitz
Eli Slavin for Congresswoman Yvette Clarke
Wendy Ann Powell for Assembly Member Rhoda Jacobs
Mark Dicos, Church Avenue Business Improvement District


The regular meeting of the 70th Precinct Community Council was called to order at 7:45 p.m. President Ed Powell greeted all and invited everyone to join him in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. President Powell sadly announced that over the summer we lost our former corresponding secretary and long standing community activist Laura James. Commander Monteforte spoke of Laura James commitment to the community and asked for a moment of silence in her memory. Mr. Powell then acknowledged the various representatives of elected officials and other distinguished guests present at the meeting (see above).

1. Message from Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs – Wendy Ann Powell
Rhoda Jacobs wanted to give an important message; she has a intergenerational program called Jacob’s Ladder in which she take seniors on trips and cultural events. Also, on Sunday, October 18th there will be a Cancer Walk, and if anyone would like to join them please contact their office. Mrs. Powell also took up a donation for the Cancer Walk.

2. Report from President Ed Powell. President Powell introduced Gus Caracappa and James Denofrio of Blair Mazzabella Funeral Home on Coney Island Avenue and commended them for on covering the cost of two funerals for families that lost their child in a tragedy. He also praised them for the beautiful job they had done for Laura James. The two men received a Memorial Thank You Award from the 70th Precinct Community Council.

3. Message from Doris Ortiz. Community Board 14 next meeting wd be October 19th at PS 249 on Caton Avenue – Public Hearing on the Budget. She stated she was happy to support the precinct and to hear all the issues and if there is anything Community Board 14 can help with please contact their office.

4. East 10th Street Block Association presented the Community Council with a decorative plate in appreciation of their services and asked for their continued support.

5. Report from the Commanding Officer. Commander Monteforte stated that anytime you want to see how the precinct is doing you can go online Commander Monteforte went over the recent crime statistics which indicate that we are doing triple the reduction pace of last year. Last year we were down 5%. This year, we are down 15%. These are current numbers for the whole year to date. The only crime that the precinct is up on is stolen cars (GLA) which is up by 11 stolen cars for the year. He stated that there are a lot less victims in this precinct than last year.

Note: Percentage of Crimes down in the 70th Precinct (Jan. 1st. to Sept. 27, 2009)

Robberies 27%
Rape 64%
Murders 5%
Felony Assault 10%
Grand Larceny 14%

Commander Monteforte stated one of the reasons crime is down is because of Captain Pascal of Brooklyn South Narcotics and commended Captain Pascal for their work in getting drug dealers and drug buyers off the streets. He stated Captain Pascal takes all of our complaints very seriously. The problems sometimes stem from drug dealing. Captain Pascal and his officers and supervisors conducted an operation called Operational Spinal Tap for the past 25 months and investigated two drug organizations on 21st Street and bought over $10,000 worth of crack off of these dealers. They made 75 arrests. These drug dealers will be charged with multiple sales. We owe our gratitude to Brooklyn South Narcotics.

Commander Monteforte gave special recognition to Detective Agapito ‘Junior’ Soler, Detective Hector Rodriguez and an undercover cop for the role they played in the 25 month long investigation of Operational Spinal Tap.

6. Cops of the Month: P.O. Matthew Collyer and P.O. Christopher Niemeyer
Officers Collyer and Niemeyer were on routine patrol when they responded to a call from central to rescue a two year old baby that fell out of a third story window. They were commended for their valiant attempts to save the life of the infant. They also attended the funeral and spent the day with the family.

Commander Monteforte stated that for the first time in many years, there were not shootings in the 3 day period of the Jouvert Celebration. There were six crimes for the three (3) day weekend, domestic violence and two (2) police officers got hurt.

Commander Monteforte gave a citation to Lt. Ferber, Sgt. Kocher and several officers of the Anti Crime Unit for taking another gun collar off the streets.

The Commander also recognized Joe "The Chef" Basso for selflessly committing his time and being there for events when the PCC needed him.

Commander Monteforte prepared a Power Point presentation to show after the general meeting so that those that lived on Cortelyou Road can know what’s going on within their area.

7. Open Forum with Inspector Monteforte.

Members of Ditmas Park West and Prospect Park South made a complaint about garbage cans being stolen.

Members of one Temple asked why there was a lack of police presence on holidays. Monteforte explained that we have 80 Temples in the 70th and that if there is not a dedicated Officer on a given day, then there are cars going back and forth between the remaining Temples all day.

From Prospect Park South, someone asked, how many officers do we have today compared to last year. Commander Monteforte said, “We have around 300 which is roughly the same number as last year. We still have the impact officers and we will be keeping them for the future as far as we can tell.”

There were complaints about some associations not getting notified of PCC activities. The site address was given out as well as a request that those that have complaints take on the role of representatives. One example revolved around a half way house in Caton Park which police have been to on occasion and are working with Community Board 14 to address. Doris Ortiz from Community Board 14 was there to speak on the issue.

Representatives from Beverly Square West brought up that the PS 139 Schoolyard is open at night and has been the site of youth gatherings and making noise.

Mark Dicus from the Church Avenue B.I.D. brought up recent crime activity around the corner of East 18th and Church Avenue. This site has been discussed as a possible spot to place a camera.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 8:45 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Mary McRae

Nathan Thompson
Assistant Secretary

Friday, October 16, 2009

October 2009 Meeting

Join us at our next meeting on Wednesday, October 28th at 7:30 PM in the United Cerebral Palsy of New York City's Community Room at 175 Lawrence Avenue.

Crime reduction continues in 70th Precinct

By Helen Klein

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.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Crack thugs sue city: Lawyers settle cop-abuse raps for $500K; same dealers score many times

BY Patrice O'Shaughnessy

Members of a brazen Brooklyn crack gang raked in more than $500,000 in taxpayer money by repeatedly suing the city for civil rights violations, records show.

Accused drug dealers from the East 21st St. Crew and associates sued the city more than 20 times - and the city settled every time, even though many of the same people sued again and again.

The reason: The city's policy of aggressively settling cases rather than risk a big judgment after a costly trial.

Law enforcement officials are outraged at the repercussions.

"They [the reputed drug dealers] are raising hell in the community and collecting judgments on top of it," one police source said. "They were emboldened; taunting cops."

Authorities say the gang ran a street-level crack operation that wreaked havoc on an East Flatbush neighborhood before being busted last month.

Investigators say they have gang members on tape making more than 100 sales to undercover cops in two years.

"This was a very violent crack crew," city Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said. "A real thorn in the side of the community."

Incredibly, court records show the gang pulled in much better money from suing the city in Brooklyn Federal Court, claiming cops violated their civil rights.

One crew member, Shamel King, got $117,500 from the city, in six separate claims, including one for $35,000 and three for $20,000 each. King, charged with 37 sales, was caught on video smiling as he counted out crack rocks, a law enforcement source said.

A main target of the East 21st St. Crew, Anthony Lawrence, was shot multiple times and wounded Aug. 31 in his apartment, apparently by gunmen who went to rob him of his latest settlement check from the city - for $17,500, law enforcement sources said. Lawrence collected $40,000 in settlements. He was indicted on 11 counts of drug selling.

Another reputed crew member, Affection Johnson, got three settlements totaling $41,500. Johnson was indicted on 39 counts.
"It's crazy," said Michael Palladino, president of the Detectives Endowment Association. "How could this happen more than once?"

Law Department spokeswoman Connie Pankratz said, "Within the last 10 years, there has been a significant increase in the number of cases that we've settled."

She said the city is sued 200 times a week, and that claims against the police have increased.

As of July 1, the city has paid out $637.7 million in judgments and settlements this year.

The department "is responsible for protecting the city's [fiscal situation]," she said. "Although we are often successful at trial, it can be more expensive to defend a case than to settle it."

She said that since the indictment, these cases were being reviewed "at the highest levels" of the department.

Asked if the agency would make any changes to prevent such an egregious playing of the system, she said, "We would like to prevent this, but each case has to be weighed."

Asked if city lawyers checked into King's background after the first three suits, Pankratz said they believed it was more responsible to settle than go to trial.

In the suits, some of which date back several years, the accused dealers claimed that cops - most of them assigned to Brooklyn South Narcotics - fabricated cases, conducted illegal strip searches, falsely arrested them and harassed them while they were merely walking down the street.

They sued after their arrests were dropped or adjourned contemplating dismissal.

The majority of the suits were handled by lawyer Richard Cardinale, who was successful in a class-action suit against the city for illegal strip searches at Rikers Island, and in cases against Brooklyn South Narcotics cops.

He said the clients paid him one-third of their settlements as his fee.

"The cases that I brought, those individuals were innocent of those charges," Cardinale said. "The district attorney had dismissed the cases."

He suggested the recent indictment was retaliation.

"I spoke to some of the families, and they said the officers who arrested them made comments like, 'You like to bring stupid lawsuits?'"

The dozen accused members of the East 21st St. Crew were indicted in September. Eight were arrested; four already were in jail.

Undercovers made dozens of crack purchases in and around the Ditmas Arms on E. 21st St., where King and Lawrence live.

Brennan said the gang made 171 sales to undercovers totaling $10,460, many from inside Star USA, a 99 cent store at Flatbush and Ditmas Aves.

Cops started focusing on drug-dealing in the area after community complaints and shootings in the vicinity linked to feuding gangs.

One shooting, still unsolved, took place on July 30, 2007, outside 501 E. 21st St. near Dorchester Road. Gunmen killed Robert Dixon - who had a criminal record for marijuana possession and assault - in a hail of bullets. Two women who were walking by were wounded.