By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Crime has dived 78 percent in the 84th Precinct over the last two decades, Deputy Inspector Mark Di Paolo said at Tuesday’s National Night Out Against Crime celebration at Brooklyn Borough Hall, where neighbors cheered the success of the partnership between the precinct and the community.
Old-timers commented on how much the neighborhoods in the precinct — including Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, Boerum Hill, DUMBO and Vinegar Hill — have changed over the years.
“We’re literally here to celebrate the success of the partnership between the community and the police,” said Leslie Lewis, president of the 84th Precinct Community Council for 22 years. “When this all started, it was too dangerous to walk around at night; nobody was on the streets. Now there are people on the streets, development everywhere. It’s a very different world because of the work we’ve all done. Because of the success of the partnership, developers started to spend money and encourage people to move here. It’s directly related.”
Music, dance, informational handouts and an appearance by the junior members of the Gowanus Wildcats drill team accompanied hotdogs and hamburgers grilled by officers from the 84th.
“I like the hamburgers the best,” declared Johaxiry Martinez, age 10, munching on a burger while the Police Auxiliary Band played Glenn Miller’s “Moonlight Serenade.”
National Night Out, which helps build relationships between cops and the communities they police, is celebrated across the entire country.
“This is the 29th National Night Out, which, when it first began in 1984, was a night where the community came out to feel safe, not victimized,” Deputy Inspector Di Paolo said. “Now, 29 years later it’s more to celebrate how this partnership brought safety to the community.”
Crime is down 10 percent in the 84th Precinct overall this year, Di Paolo said. “Five percent in robberies, 22 percent in felony assault, and 60 percent in stolen cars.”
Judy Stanton, executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association, told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle that the 84th Precinct “is very responsive to local community needs as well as keeping a handle on the bigger issues in the precinct — terror targets, the bridge, etc. They give equal attention to big and little stuff.”
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz noted that while Brooklyn’s overall crime rate continues to fall, the same can’t be said for several neighborhoods like East New York, East Flatbush and Brownsville, where “too many people” get shot.
“The country needs to get over its love affair with private gun ownership,” he said. “In many neighborhoods it’s easier to buy a gun than a book.”
Assemblywoman Joan Millman presented a special recognition to the 84th, “To recognize the work they’ve done in partnership with the community.” New York City Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano presented a proclamation on behalf of Mayor Bloomberg, proclaiming Tuesday "National Night Out Against Crime."
“We all sleep a lot better knowing [the police] are working seven days a week, 24 hours a day,” he said.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn also made an appearance at the celebration, commenting that “one of the ways to keep guns off the street is to work together in partnership” with the NYPD.
District Leader Jo Anne Simon attended the event, as well as representatives from state Sen. Daniel Squadron and state Sen. Velmonette Montgomery’s offices.