By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The unofficial motto of the police department is to protect and to serve, but in order to be properly “served,” Brooklynites should assume an active role in helping their local precinct at precinct community council meetings that are typically held each month.
Deputy Inspector Michael Ameri and Community Council President Pauline Blake run the meetings for the 78th Precinct that serves Park Slope and a large portion of the area surrounding the Barclays Center.
“They're very enlightening,” deputy inspector Ameri said about the precinct council meetings. “I wouldn't know what the concerns of the community were if it weren't for them. I would be in my office and they would be out there complaining about the precinct, quality of life issues, and crime, and I would never be aware of it.
I try the best I can to accommodate people and be open minded about their concerns.”
Since the Barclays Center opened up in October it has been the center of attention during most of the 78th Precinct council meetings. Initially, people expressed concern that the quality of life in the area surrounding the arena would decline and that the incidence of violent crime and robberies would go up. While that hasn’t happened, meeting discussions still tend to be centered on the Barclays Center.
“Because of the Barclays Center, parking has become a horrendous problem,” Blake said. “Thanks to these meetings, though, we've been able to really button down on the parking problem. It used to be so horrendous that on event nights, we, as residents, couldn’t even leave our house.
“Right now it can still take up to an hour to find a spot, but at least there has been some improvement.”
At the most recent meeting held this past Tuesday, there were a couple of residents on hand to thank police officers for working with them on quality of life issues that were raised at past meetings.
Paco Abraham, from the group Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group for bicycling, walking, and public transit, presented deputy inspector Ameri with a framed photograph featuring about 20 of the group’s members, each of whom had signed the photo. It was the group's way of saying thanks for helping them to establish a bike lane on Bergen Street that had only been operating in an unofficial capacity before the 78th Precinct stepped in.
Peter Krashes, from the Dean Street Block Association, also thanked deputy inspector Ameri for helping to convince officers from the 78th Precinct to stop parking their cars on the sidewalk on Dean Street. At previous meetings, Krashes had raised his concern that this particular spot was unsafe for cops to park in because of its close proximity to a park. Eventually, deputy inspector Ameri agreed and had his officers move to a different location.
It isn’t just local residents who come to the police with their issues. The police, too, often will use the precinct community council meetings as a way to disseminate crime prevention tips to the public.
During Tuesday’s meeting, officer Raymond Morales informed everyone about Operation ID, a program that has been around for years, but was improved upon last September. Operation ID has registered the serial number for any electronic devices that are prone to theft. Those serial numbers are entered into a citywide database, and if they are stolen and recovered anywhere in the city, the police will notify the owner and return the device.
COP OF THE MONTH
Officer Deborah Lowe was presented with a Cop of the Month award by the precinct community council.
A suspect had punched someone in the head and took off with the individual’s cell phone on Sterling Place. With the victim, Officer Lowe canvassed the area before they eventually spotted the suspect. After a three-block chase, Officer Lowe apprehended the suspect and recovered the stolen cell phone.
“Because of the valiant efforts of Officer Lowe, the perp was apprehended,” Deputy Inspector Ameri said. “It’s because of officers like her that the people of Park Slope can sleep easily at night.”