By Paula Katinas
Sunset Park — Police Captain James Grant admitted to community leaders that the area his precinct covers is “quite larger than I thought.”
Grant, newly installed as the commanding officer of the 72nd Precinct, said “I have a pretty good handle on it now.”
The 72nd Precinct covers the Sunset Park, Green-Wood Heights, and Windsor Terrace communities. Grant, a 15-year veteran of the New York Police Department, was assigned to the precinct earlier this month.
“I was elated,” he said.
Grant came to Community Board Seven’s meeting on Jan. 18 to introduce himself to the board members and vowed to work closely with them on neighborhood issues.
“I’m very eager to work with you,” he told board members at their meeting at the Sunset Park Court House at 4201 Fourth Ave.
Among the new programs Grant is starting at the precinct is an e-mail notification system. Residents who sign up for the system will receive e-mail alerts from Grant. Residents would also be able to use the system to tell Grant about crime patterns or quality of life issues concerning them.
“Any issues that come up we’ll enter into a little database,” Grant said.
The information will be forwarded to the precinct’s officers so that they can act on it.
Aaron Brashear, the board’s Sergeant-at-Arms, said Green-Wood Heights residents are already in the habit of regularly reporting graffiti vandalism to the precinct. Graffiti vandals leave their “tags” in the area of Green-Wood Cemetery on Seventh Avenue and 23rd Street, according to Brashear. A vandal’s “tag” is a marking identifying within the graffiti that identifies the vandal, like an artist’s signature on a painting.
“There are a lot of active community groups and block associations to keep an eye out,” Brashear said.
“We encourage reporting of any crime, especially graffiti,” Grant told him. “We take pictures of the tags, download them, and send them to the vandals squad.”
When Grant asked board members and residents at the meeting if there were any problems they wanted him to address, Lynn McAvoy spoke up. McAvoy, director of the Sunset Park Recreation Center, said she was concerned over the presence of a group of men who participate in gambling activities inside the center, in front of children.
“They’re there all day, but I’m particularly concerned about their being there at 3 o’clock, when children come in. We have an after-school program. We try to clear them out because children come at that time,” McAvoy told Grant.
Located inside Sunset Park on Seventh Avenue and 43rd Street, the center provides educational and recreational activities for children and adults.
The presence of the gamblers is troubling, according to McAvoy, who said the men enter the center and take up space, but are not members.
“They don’t belong inside the building. They are supposed to be members (to enter),” she said.
Grant said he would send a police officer to the recreation center to look into the matter.