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Civic leaders from northern and eastern Queens, who have maintained for years that their police forces have been stretched too thin, gathered last week to show their support for a state legislative effort to split both the 105th and 109th precincts in half.
“People in the 109th and 105th feel that because of the population and the size of their precincts, they’re not getting the police coverage they deserve,” said state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who stood in his Bayside office with state Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside) and representatives from about a dozen civics to announce he had introduced legislation to split the precincts.
The 109th Precinct covers downtown Flushing, East Flushing, Queensboro Hill, College Point, Malba, Whitestone, Beechhurst and Bay Terrace, while the 105th covers Queens Village, Cambria Heights, Laurelton, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens, Bellerose, Glen Oaks, New Hyde Park and Floral Park.
“The 109th has a population density larger than both the 103rd and the 113th precincts combined, while the 105th is responsible for patrolling an area that encompasses nearly twice the square mileage of the 100th and 101st precincts,” he said.
Elected officials and residents alike stressed that they were not criticizing their police and offered anecdotal stories about poor response times they said highlight how their precincts have too much to cover.
Warren Schreiber, president of the Bay Terrace Civic Association, said he was told that if police were responding to his neighborhood from the 111th headquarters in Bayside rather than from the 109th’s in downtown Flushing, response times could be cut by 90 seconds or more.
“That may not seem like a long time,” he said, “but that could be the difference between life and death.”
Bob Friedrich, president of the Glen Oaks Village co-op, said that during rush hour it can take police up to an hour and a half to drive from the station in the north to the other end of the 105th in the south..
Avella said he had undertaken this issue when he was a city councilman and was told by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly that the funding to build and staff two additional police headquarters was not available.
To that end, he criticized Bloomberg and Kelly for building a $1 billion-plus police academy in College Point and adding extra costs by relocating the police museum from downtown Manhattan and building a special residence for visiting dignitaries when they could be boarded at Fort Totten. He estimated the cost of two new precinct headquarters at $20 million to $30 million.
The mayor’s office referred requests for comment to the NYPD, which did not respond.
Avella said he would attempt to find funding from Albany and would work with the city on a possible matching program. The state legislation would require a home rule law, which would then go to the Council for a vote.
“We’re trying to circumvent the city because the city isn’t doing anything,” the senator said. “Even if the legislation doesn’t pass, let’s embarrass the city into doing something.”
Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) did not attend, but a representative of his delivered a letter in which the councilman expressed his support for splitting the 105th Precinct.
Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) had not been invited to the news conference, though a spokesman said Halloran believed splitting the 109th Precinct was a fine idea.
“There are questions about the resources it would take to create new precincts and sub-agencies in a time when we’re barely making ends meet and when we’re in the red,” said Halloran’s spokesman, Steve Stites. “He thinks there’s a possibility of reshuffling the 109th and the 111th to draw the lines so that Bay Terrace is in the 111th. This way does not require a big expenditure.”
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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