2017-11-09 / Other News

Residents To 69th Precinct NCOs: “Clean Up Troubled Corner In Canarsie”

By Dara Mormile

Some residents are hesitant to shop at Bayview Plaza bodega, where unsavory individuals often congregate outside. Some residents are hesitant to shop at Bayview Plaza bodega, where unsavory individuals often congregate outside. On any given day, a group of men can be seen loitering outside of the bodega at the mini shopping strip at the southeast side of Rockaway Parkway and Seaview Avenue. Whether they’re selling loosies (loose cigarettes) or coercing passersby to purchase drugs, residents want the apparent derelicts at the location removed by local police officers.

When Sector B of the Neighborhood Coordination Officers (NCOs) met on Wednesday, November 1st at Beraca Baptist Church at East 96th Street and Flatlands Avenue, residents who live near the busy bodega sounded off about how uncomfortable they feel shopping near the Bayview Houses shopping center.

“We don’t feel safe shopping there - and then we have to go somewhere else far away from our homes to get things we need,” one resident said. “It seems like those merchants don’t even live in our community - and they don’t understand how we feel.”

The NCOs who routinely patrol Sector B, Police Officers Daniel Austin and Ashmeed Paltoo, said residents can always take their business elsewhere to make a statement to business owners. Officers said merchants may be more prone to tell the “shady characters” to move their operations away from their store if they see conditions negatively affecting their business.

“We have made some arrests at that corner for drug possession, but other than that, they’re not doing anything illegal,” Paltoo said.

The 69th Precinct Clergy Council has hosted dozens of prayer vigils at the sketchy corner to bring a positive vibe to the community. However, it seems that police enforcement will only be implemented when a violent crime takes place that results in tragedy.

Residents also want officers to try to provide resources to some of the young men hanging out at the corner, suggesting they hand out information about job fairs and other programs that will get them off of the streets.

While Canarsie has its share of career fairs and officers are more than willing to help troubled youth, Community Affairs Officer Samuel Maria put it best, saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. The 69th Precinct has job fairs that we invited everyone to - but you should see the reaction we get from some people we hand the information to. I hand them a flyer that could possibly help them - a few seconds later, they throw that paper in the trash.”

Another mini strip mall residents want to see improved is at East 105th Street and Flatlands Avenue, where the local 7-Eleven attracts “troublemaking” teens who hang out in and around the convenience store. When students are dismissed from The Science And Medicine Middle School/I.S. 366 at East 107th Street near Avenue J, some of them loiter in the community at the 7-Eleven and one child was recently robbed of his cell phone near the location.

“We’ve been keeping our eyes on the location and trying to prevent gang activity there. We get complaints from 7-Eleven management too - and the kids scatter when we show up and then come back,” said Officer Austin.

Homeowners want more school safety officers in the area and one resident said a dean from the school should oversee and delegate dismissal to make sure children get on a bus and go home instead of hanging out and causing trouble in our community.

Officer Paltoo said the problem with adding more school safety agents is that the demand for Canarsie High School dismissal patrol is greater.

The NCO meeting had the biggest turnout so far for Sector B in the command, which encompasses the east side of East 94th Street to East 108th Street and the south side of Flatlands Avenue to Bayview Houses and Canarsie Pier. Neighbors have been spreading the word to each other about the community policing program that aims to improve and strengthen the relationship between officers and residents.

Officers Paltoo and Austin distributed business cards so residents could contact them about ongoing problems in the community. Another goal of the program is to bring back the style of “old school policing” where the same officers are seen patrolling every day. Subsequently, these officers have established specific needs and concerns among the community that they can focus on to improve quality of life issues.

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