By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Bensonhurst’s 86th Street shopping strip has become a testing ground for an old policing concept that is suddenly becoming new again.
Several months ago, Insp. James Rooney, commanding officer of the 62nd Precinct assigned a beat cop, P.O. John Ciarcia, to patrol the street, mingle with shopkeepers, and keep an eye out for trouble in the area. Ciarcia’s territory includes more than 250 stores. Thousands of shoppers visit 86th Street each day.
“The beat cop is something out of the past, but it worked out phenomenally well,” Rooney told Community Board 11 members at their June 18 meeting. Storeowners have come to like and trust the officer, Rooney said.
The community board agreed. Chairman Bill Guarinello and District Manager Marnee Elias-Pavia presented Ciarcia with a plaque to thank him for his service to the Bensonhurst community. “He does an exceptional job,” Guarinello said. Ciarcia maintains close contact with the community board and often stops by the board’s office on Bath Avenue to keep them apprised of crime related issues, the chairman said.
The beat cop was a standard policing method in New York City until the 1970s when officers were removed from foot posts and ordered to patrol the city’s neighborhoods in patrol cars.
Ciarcia’s wife Denise, holding their baby daughter Faith, watched proudly as he accepted the plaque. The meeting took place in the community room at the Bensonhurst Center for Rehabilitation and Health Care at 1740 84th St.
In a brief presentation to the board, Rooney said the precinct was dealing with a pattern of burglaries in which the suspects gain entry to houses by kicking in the front door. The burglars have been hitting homes between 14th and 18th Avenues in the streets numbered in the 70s and 80s, he said. Police did recently arrest a suspect who they believe is responsible for many of the incidents, Rooney said.
Also at the meeting, the community publicly thanked the Department of Sanitation for keeping the streets of Bensonhurst clean. Guarinello and Elias-Pavia presented a plaque to Arthur Mondella, who is in charge of sanitation issues for the neighborhood.
“Our community is always one of the cleanest,” Guarinello said. Mondella is very responsive to the community board when sanitation-related issues come up in Bensonhurst, according to Elias-Pavia, who joked “Artie gets a lot of phone calls from me!” Mondella playfully answered, “Yes, at eight o’clock in the morning.” Elias-Pavia replied, “You can tell the truth. It’s 7:30!”
In other news, the board voted to recommend that the city approve a zoning request by the owners of a car dealership to enlarge their building at 1614/23 86th St. by 5,200 square feet. “It will be the same one-story building,” said Man Wai Lau, chairman of the board’s Planning and Zoning Committee.
Board members also elected a slate of officers to lead them for the 2013-2014 year. Guarinello was re-elected to another term as chairman. The board chose Laurie Windsor to serve as vice chairman and Shirley Feinman to be the second vice chairman. The secretary is Man Wai Lau. Nicholas Miraglia was elected treasurer.
In her monthly district manager’s report, Elias-Pavia said the city will repair the bulk heads along the Shore Parkway waterfront that were damaged by Super-storm Sandy in October. The areas of 14th and 17th Avenues sustained the most damage, she said. The waterfront area, which contains a pedestrian-bicycle path, is located next to the Belt Parkway. “That portion of the roadway is vulnerable to storms,” Elias-Pavia said. The repairs are expected to be completed by December.