Pols meet with Kelly on recent crime jump
By Frank Lombardi
Oct 6, 2011
It took awhile, but clamoring uptown politicians have succeeded in meeting with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly about the spike in crime in Washington Heights and Inwood.
"Bureaucracies always work that way,” said state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who has been leading the clamoring about crime for months now. “But at the end of the day he listened to us. We made our case and I do think we’re going to see some results.”
Joining Espaillat at the one-hour session at Police Headquarters this past Friday were uptown Council members Ydanis Rodriguez and Robert Jackson and Washington Heights District Leader Maria Luna. Others were invited but had scheduling conflicts.
Espaillat and his allies have held community meetings, press conferences and spoken out in other ways since early this year about rising crime problems in their districts. They began asking to meet with Kelly in August.
Their concern, and that of many community residents, was stoked by a general increase in crime complaints, and perhaps fueled by a number of headline-grabbing, if isolated, incidents within the 34th Police Precinct, which covers northernmost Manhattan above W. 179th Street.
There were several homicides involving young men earlier in the year and a rash of rapes and assaults on women in the summer. More recently, there was the controversial Sept. 6 fatal shooting in Inwood of John Collado, 43, by a plainclothes cop during the arrest of a suspected drug dealer. And an off-duty police officer was charged with raping an Inwood teacher on Aug. 19.
Generally, there’s been an 18% increase in reported major crimes in the precinct so far this year, compared with the same period last year. As of Sept. 25, there had been seven murders, compared with two, along with 16 rapes, up from 12, and 182 felonious assaults, up from 157.
Espaillat acknowledged that Washington Heights and Inwood are a long way from returning to the drug and crime plagued woes of several decades ago. In 1990, the 34th precinct recorded 10,027 major crimes, including 103 murders.
But that’s just the point, Espaillat asserted, “We don’t want it to slip back.”
Espaillat said he’s confident Kelly shares that concern. He said that Kelly assured him that 50 extra cops sent into the 34th Precinct early this summer through Operation impact (a strategy to temporarily send additional cops to troubled areas) “won’t leave anytime soon.”
Other specific crime-reduction proposals are being considered, according to Espaillat.