By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A recent report revealed that Brooklyn is the most dangerous of all the boroughs when it comes to pedestrian and bicycling accidents, accounting for nearly a third of such accidents in the entire city.
That report hasn't gone unnoticed by Captain Maximo Tolentino of the 84th Precinct. He is doing everything he can to cut down on accidents in Brooklyn Heights and the Downtown Brooklyn area.
"When I came here, I said that traffic, and especially bikes, will be a big area of concern for me," Tolentino said at this month’s 84th Precinct Community Council meeting. "We have a plan in place, and as long as we stick to it, I think it will be effective."
So far, accidents are down this year compared to a year ago. However, they are up slightly in the last 28 days compared to the same period last year, from 220 to 243. Accidents involving injuries are down slightly over the past 28 days, from 37 to 36. Injuries involving pedestrians are also down from nine to six over that period, but injuries involving bicycles are up slightly from five to six.
This comes at a time where residents of Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO and other neighborhoods within the 84th Precinct area are riding more bikes than ever, especially now that the Citi Bike program has kicked in.
As a result of increased bicycle ridership, the 84th Precinct has increased its enforcement of both automobile and bicycle traffic violations, with 135 traffic summonses issued so far this year compared to 65 a year ago. Included in that total were 74 tickets for disobeying red lights and 41 for disobeying other traffic signs.
“We have put a plan in place where we are going to pick different days of the week every week when we're going to do heavy enforcement on that particular day,” Tolentino explained. “We won't alert anyone, and we are going to focus in different areas. “
Along with increased enforcement, Sgt. Tony Correia and the traffic safety team analyze accidents and their locations to see if they can help out in the more troubled spots.
Sgt. Correia said that bike enforcement has been up nearly 150 percent this year compared to last. He reported that over the last 28 days, there have been no issues of pedestrians getting hit by bikes, and that the majority of bicycle accidents were side-swipes involving cars. Car drivers opening their doors without looking for bikes has also been an issue, he said.
The 84th Precinct currently has two cops that patrol the area on bikes. Three more are being trained.
The precinct will also continue to monitor the Citi Bike program. There was just one accident involving one of the program’s bikes in the past 28 days and one instance where a credit card was stolen and used to sign up for a Citi Bike pass. Police are also monitoring the areas where the bikes have been installed.
Crime is down across the board in the 84th Precinct area, from 410 offenses (year to date) a year ago to just 399 today. It’s also down to 61 over the past 28-day period from 86 during the same period last year.
The biggest reduction has been in burglaries, which are down to 28 from 55. Robberies are also down to eight from 13, felony assaults are down to 47 from 51, and grand larcenies are down to 34 from 48. "That's the first time in a while that grand larceny is down," Tolentino added.
Cop of the Month
This month, the Precinct Community Council awarded Officer Matthew Kalil with the Cop of the Month award. Kalil has been with the NYPD for nearly seven years and has been with the 84th Precinct since 2010.
Kalil, originally from Staten Island, said he has always wanted to be a cop, especially since his father and two uncles worked for the NYPD. His wife's father is also a cop. After he graduated from high school, Kalil attended University of Massachusetts at Lowell, where he majored in criminal justice. He went into the police force right after college.
Officer Kalil was honored for a February gun arrest when he noticed somebody with a known history of violent crimes trespassing within the precinct. As he approached the suspect to ask for an ID, he noticed a bulge in the man's jacket which turned out to be a loaded .22. Kalil and his team arrested him without further incident.
“Matt is a member of our Anti-Crime Unit,” Tolentino said. “He's one of the guys in plainclothes that is out there looking for the really bad guys. We're very proud of him for this arrest because there is nothing better for our community than getting a gun off the street.”