Problem areas: Atlantic Ave., Flatbush Ave., Tillary St.
By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
On Tuesday morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke about his Vision Zero plan to combat the deaths of innocent bystanders killed by drivers who break the law. Speaking at a community council meeting at 160 Schermerhorn St. that same night, the 84th Precinct Captain Maximo Tolentino was quick to embrace that plan.
“A life is a life,” Tolentino declared. “We're very concerned with pedestrian accidents. We're treating pedestrian accidents here in this precinct like they treat shootings in other places. Last year we had one individual killed because of violence, and we had three individuals die as the result of motor vehicle accidents.
“Our police officers have become very proactive,” he continued. “They understand Vision Zero, and our goal is to meet that this year. We are trying very hard to do so.”
In an effort to meet this goal, Tolentino announced that his unit will focus on its three biggest problem areas -- including Atlantic Avenue, Flatbush Avenue and Tillary Street. He also said that his precinct monitors the statistics daily and will shift resources to troubled areas as needed.
There have been no fatalities so far, but unfortunately, accidents in the 84th Precinct are already up significantly for the year, with 201 being reported in the last 28 days compared to 176 during the same period last year.
Many of these accidents have been attributed to the bad weather that Brooklyn has experienced, with 51 inches of snow in the 84th Precinct so far this year. It has left roads more slippery and narrow which has led to 23 accidents for “passing too closely” and 17 for slippery pavement.
Regardless of the reasons, the numbers are too high for Tolentino, so he has cracked down on moving violations in the area. The precinct has given out 947 summonses in the past 28 days, compared to just 694 during the same time last year. Of those, 262 were for parking in intersections and blocking bike lanes (compared to 119 at the same time last year), 151 were for disobeyed signs (144), 78 were for running red lights (nine), and 197 for improper turns (125).
Tolentino said that he doesn’t plan on ticketing people for jaywalking since he puts the onus on the drivers. He did say that once the weather warms up that his officers will heavily enforce bike rules.
“My own personal opinion is that everybody must be careful, but motorists have an added responsibility because of the danger they impose,” Tolentino said. “As drivers, we have a responsibility whether or not a motorist is at fault. We have to abide by the laws and yield the right to pedestrians.”
Felony Assaults Increase
Crime is also up in the 84th Precinct. This is mainly due to felony assaults, which increased from four last year to 14 so far this year. Overall assaults have increased from eight last year to 23 so far this year.
The majority of these assaults took place at the city House of Detention on Atlantic Avenue. Tolentino added that there was one fight between friends at a bar.
Robberies are also up from nine over the 28 day-period last year to 13 this year. Tolentino attributed much of that to problems in the Gowanus and Wyckoff housing projects, and noted that one group of three individuals has been going around robbing cell phones and electronics.
“To deal with this, we have assigned additional cars and plainclothes officers to that area,” he said.
Grand larcenies are down from 44 last year to 38 this year. Police went around to local gyms and asked them to beef up security in locker rooms, which had become targets for thieves. Unattended property continues to be the biggest problem.
Burglaries are down from eight last year to seven this year, and Tolentino noted that the Gowanus and Wyckoff houses are the problematic areas.
Cop of the Month
When Tolentino announced that Officer Francis Ainoo was named Cop of the Month last year, he explained that Ainoo was an exemplary officer who would no doubt be honored with the award again someday. It took exactly one year for him to be named Cop of the Month again by the Community Council.
“This is the second time that we’ve honored Francis Ainoo for his contribution to the 84th Precinct,” Tolentino said. “I break his shoes a bit and tell him that it’s only so we can see his beautiful wife again, but honestly, he’s an exceptional cop that puts himself in harm's way to protect the people of this community.”
Ainoo was honored again after he apprehended a suspect who shot a .22 caliber revolver into a crowd in front of 177 Sands St. and evaded cops by running into 192 Sands. Ainoo recognized the suspect and arrested him at his apartment without further incident.
Same Scam, New Wrinkles
At the community council meeting, Crime Prevention Officer John Kenny warned citizens of a new twist on an old scam that has been reported in the area.
The scam involves thieves who call people to tell them they owe money, ask them to go out and buy a MoneyPak (similar to a debit card) and give them a number to call to make a payment. The new wrinkle is that thieves have begun using apps that alter caller IDs to make it look like they are actually calling from Con Ed or the IRS.
Kenny noted that the IRS does not throw people in jail, and that Con Ed would not suddenly cut your power. He added that anytime you hear the word “Pak” it should immediately be a tip that a scam is going on.
Chris Tabellario from Common Ground, a community group that assists the homeless, was at the meeting to discuss how members of the community can help out during the cold winter months. He said that the best plan of action was to call 311, and city personnel wil try to make contact with the homeless person and move them into a shelter.