Residents Asks Cops to Beef Up
Norwood residents worried about a recent crime rash asked police to escalate patrol of the area at a Dec. 4 meeting in the cafeteria of St. Brendan's School. The Mosholu-Woodlawn South Community Coalition organized the meeting in response to a string of muggings and assaults carried out by local teenagers against immigrant residents.
"The security and law and order of this neighborhood has deteriorated," said Mohi Khan, a Bangladeshi immigrant who has lived in Norwood for 12 years. "I think if police were more active they could control these crimes."
Khan complained that, after his neighbor was robbed and assaulted by four teenagers at East 205th Street and Perry Avenue on Oct. 21, police took an hour and a half to respond. The victim, a postal worker in Manhattan on his way home from work, had been punched in the face and head and robbed of his money and jacket.
"The police said they were too busy," Khan said. "Everyone has the same complaint, that police response is slow."
Dat Hoa Quach, owner of Super King Discount Inc. on 204th Street, agreed. "If someone calls me in Queens [where I live] and tells me there's stealing, I come over from Queens," he said. "I get there quicker than the cops."
Captain Stephen Fischer of the 52nd Precinct told those in attendance that it is difficult for police to respond right away because they are so overwhelmed with radio calls, which average 7,000 a month. Half of those calls, Fischer added, come between 4 p.m. and 12 a.m.
Detective Jimmy Livingston of the precinct's Community Affairs Unit said crimes that are over and done with typically would not get an immediate response, but crimes in progress would. He also advised people to call 911 for crimes in progress, rather than calling the precinct.
Fischer assured the crowd that crime was lessening and not increasing. He noted that robberies went down since the police arrested the group of six teens implicated in the string of five muggings and assaults. Police arrested the teens on Nov. 5, after a bystander flagged down a police car to report a crime that had just occurred. Two of the suspects are out on bail, while four remain in jail, according to Fischer. They all have preliminary court procedures this month and in January.
Fischer added that overall arrests in the 52nd Precinct have increased 17 percent in the past six months. However, according to the NYPD's weekly crime statistics report for the 52nd, as of Nov. 19 there were only 134 arrests of robbery suspects this year compared to 316 last year. That's a 57.5 percent decrease, even though the number of robberies has roughly remained the same (672 last year and 660 this year).
Whatever the statistics represent, they were of little consolation to Norwood residents, especially for immigrants who say they are still being harassed. Abu Taher Rizvi, head of the North Bronx Islamic Center on Perry Avenue, said people often throw bottles at his mosque and urinate in front of the building. One Pakistani store owner had his window smashed, and was also recently robbed and assaulted inside his store.
South Asian victims say their attackers use racial slurs and profanity, calling them Indians and telling them to go home. Victims of muggings have also included a Mexican and Chinese resident.
But many non-immigrant residents also were represented at the well-attended meeting, some of whom complained to police about car break-ins and house robberies. They also said groups of teenagers loiter in the area, especially after school, and intimidate passerby and shoplift in local stores.
Nearly everyone who spoke at the meeting requested that police beef up their presence in Norwood. "You don't see any police in the neighborhood," Quach said. "We have lots of stores and a very nice street, but no police."
Khan also asked that police spend more time patrolling side streets, rather than sticking to main streets like Bainbridge Avenue.
Fischer, though, said police are getting to all of Norwood's streets, and that 18 new officers hit the streets a few weeks ago. "We are doing our jobs," he said, referring to the increase in arrests. "... We don't think the judges are doing their jobs."
He encouraged community residents to follow up on arrests and urge judges to impose stricter sentences. "If the judges see that the community is coming into the courtroom, and that the crimes are affecting a community, they'll say 'let's get some action on this,'" Fischer said.
Tony Schepis, an administrative assistant to the Bronx district attorney, who was at the meeting, also advised people to visit the courts. "Community impact always makes everybody do their job a little better," he said. Schepis told concerned residents to call Lisa Payne, of the Community Affairs Unit of the district attorney's office, at 590-2272, to find out trial and sentencing schedules.
Norwood residents also urged each other to get more involved. "If we see crimes, we should call police and file complaints," said Sahadat Husan. "We should get together to help each other."
Khan hopes relief will come soon. "How can you raise your kids in this insecure neighborhood?" he said. "We came from far away to live in security and give a good education [to our daughter]."
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