But No Recent Gun Violence!
By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Capt. Jeffrey Schiff didn't want to jinx the situation, but it’s not often that a police captain from the 76th Precinct gets to say this -- there has been no gun violence in Red Hook since Nov. 17, 2012.
“I’m going to say this while I can say it,” Schiff said. “We’re talking about seven months now. Now obviously there is still potential for violence in Red Hook. We’re not taking our eyes off it at all and a couple of our officers were assaulted near the Red Hook Houses last month, so we know that it’s not exactly Disney World over there. We know what can occur.”
While gun violence is down, crime is slightly up in the 76th Precinct overall, with 55 incidents over the last 28 days compared to 49 during the same period a year ago. It remains down on a longer-term basis, however, with 247 incidents year-to-date vs. 253 for the same period last year.
Robberies are up, with 11 over the past 28 days versus nine for the same period a year ago. Felony assault is up 14 vs. eight, burglary is up eight vs. six, grand larceny is up 20 v. 19, petit larceny is down 48 vs. 51 and grand larceny auto is down one vs. six.
The biggest issue the precinct is looking into is assaults on police officers, which topped out at six for the month of May. For Schiff, it’s a part of a problematic trend.
“It's a concern. Last year there were 27 cops assaulted compared to 11 in 2011, and it looks like we're having an uptick again. It's a dangerous business,” he said.
The remainder of the assaults are largely attributed to domestic violence. To combat this, officers from the 76th Precinct is planning on visiting the homes of domestic violence victims once or twice a month as they conduct their warrant sweeps.
Robberies are up only because of one suspect that police already have in custody, 15-year-old Nigel Reid, police said.
Reid was allegedly robbing children between the ages of 12 and 15, taking dollar bills at knifepoint while they were on their way to school. Police said that all five instances occurred between Monday, May 20, and Wednesday, May 22, between 7 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. He was arrested at the Carroll Street subway stop on Friday, May 24, after one of the victims helped cops to identify the suspect.
“My officers have put a lot of emphasis on robberies,” Captain Schiff explained. “We would have caught this kid sooner, but unfortunately we were not able to get a jump on this right away because the kids were traumatized and it often took them awhile to report the crime. It made it difficult to make an apprehension.
“If it weren't for that we would have been down in robberies,” he said. We're heading in the right direction.”
In other business, the community council awarded Officer Curtis Williams with its Cop of the Month award for May for his role in apprehending two suspects on assault and robbery charges.
The victim, identified only as a 38-year-old Hispanic woman, was walking down Union Street between Hoyt and Smith streets at about 10 p.m. on May 27 when she was followed by three females, who were previously seen loitering in front of a building. They eventually caught up with the victim, and two of them allegedly assaulted her while the third stole her purse. All three fled on foot.
Williams and other officers began to canvass the area and eventually spotted two of the suspects, 16-year-old Kia Percival, and 17-year-old Destiny Askew. Percival had a previous arrest from a gunpoint robbery that occurred in the 71st Precinct onFeb. 11. Askew was previously arrested by the 76th Precinct on March 6 on gang assault charges for attempting to intimidate a witness.
"These were bad individuals," Captain Jeffrey Schiff explained at the community council meeting. "Luckily because of the quick response of Officer Williams and the other members of his team, we were able to apprehend two of the three perps quickly. Officer Williams is one of our better cops and for this he certainly deserved our Cop of the Month award."
The police are still searching for the third victim, but Percival and Askew are currently in jail. The victim’s purse and wallet were eventually returned, according to police.
Officer Williams was born and raised in Bedford-Stuyvesant. He's been a police officer for six years now after he joined the army right out of high school. He explained that it wasn't always his dream to become a cop, but after his daughter Chelsea was born, he was talked into it by his uncle, who was previously a member of the NYPD.
"After the Army, I was with a company that went through an Enron situation," Williams said after receiving the award. "After that I felt like there was no stability in that job and with my daughter having just been born, I was open to joining the NYPD because it’s a great job.”
Williams explained how being from Brooklyn and being familiar with the area have helped him police his beat. He also explained how this arrest was especially satisfying because how bad the assault on the victim was.
Finally, the Community Council held its elections at this meeting, and the current officers were re-elected. Jerry Armer will return as president, Andy Freedman as vice president, and Madeline Murphy as treasurer. Gilbert Gonzalez is now Sergeant at Arms, a new position.