Rape Issues Cause Jamaica Anxiety

Shirley L. Huntley

February 28, 2008


Editorial feature in The Queens Chronicle
by Matt Hampton, Assistant Editor

An unknown assailant raped a 16-year-old at knife point in South Jamaica on Saturday, Feb. 16, police said.    With the revelation of yet another rape in southeast Queens, residents and politicians have started to call for more action on the part of police to stem the tide of sexual assaults in the community. 

During the Feb. 16 incident, police said, a 16-year-old Asian girl was approached at the corner of 137th Avenue and 155th Street by a black man in his mid-30’s, claiming to be a police officer. 

He was wearing a black knit cap with the Yankees’ insignia. Police did not reveal whether he wore any clothing to falsely indicate that he was a member of the police force.  He told the young woman to get into his black pick-up truck and then drove her to a parking lot behind a building located on 185th Street. When they arrived at the location, the man brandished a knife and sexually assaulted the victim by force. 

After the incident, the man, who is described as being 5-feet-7 inches and roughly 140 pounds, drove away in the automobile. The victim was taken to Mary Immaculate Hospital, where she was treated and made a statement to law enforcement. 

Police are still searching for another suspect who is wanted in connection with five incidents of rape or attempted rape, all in the vicinity of South Jamaica. Police are asking for the public’s help identifying the perpetrators in any of the incidents. They do not believe the two assailants are connected.  State Sen. Shirley Huntley held a meeting last month for citizens to voice their concerns, but she was disheartened that police from the 103rd Precinct were not able to attend. 

City Councilman Leroy Comrie recently called for the formation of a police task force in southeast Queens that would be aimed directly at improving awareness of the issue and making sure people take steps to keep themselves safe.  “We’ve had, according to CompStat statistics, a 27 percent increase in rapes citywide this year, and in the three precincts that touch my district it’s been almost double that,” Comrie said. “We need to work with the Police Department to get ahead of the curve, take the opportunity to raise awareness.” 

He noted that an increase that substantial would be alarming for any assault, but rapes in particular are among the most underreported crimes. 

Comrie also said that he’s spoken with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly about an increase in officers to the 103rd, 105th and 113th precincts, which encompass southeast Queens. He cautioned that while Kelly was aware of the problem, he couldn’t make any promises about additional officers. 

Huntley, for her part, said that a task force wouldn’t impress her unless it was designed to specifically patrol areas that are problematic.  “If we’re talking about community policing, if they’re going to do the kind of policing down the side streets, in hot areas, perhaps then it would be of some value,” she said. “But if it’s just the main streets (as usual) then it’s worthless.”  Calls to the 103rd Precinct Community Council for comment were not returned as of press time