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New 111th CO takes charge

TimesLedger Newspapers

Capt. Jason Huerta, the new commanding officer of the 111th Precinct, brings more than two decades’ worth of experience to his northeast Queens patrol.

“I’ve worked eight different commands across the city and they were all very different from one another,” said Huerta, who took over the position a month ago. “I bring a lot of different experiences with me.”

Huerta grew up in Flushing and started on the force 21 years ago as a transit cop in Coney Island.

“My parents drilled into me that police officers are examples for us to follow and we should look up to them,” he said.

Most recently, Huerta spent a year and a half in charge of the 110th Precinct’s Impact Zone, an area along Roosevelt Avenue between 72nd and 104th streets in Elmhurst that the NYPD floods with new officers on foot patrol to combat concentrated crime.

In 2011, the 110th Precinct stopped nearly 8,000 people under the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk program. Of those stopped, 513 were arrested and 803 were issued summonses, according to NYPD data obtained by the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Huerta said he makes an attempt to strike a balance between protecting the community and an individual’s rights.

“We try to conduct our stop, question and frisks in a manner that accomplishes the job while respecting the dignity of the individual,” he said. “It’s a balance.”

Crime in Elmhurst takes on a different face than it does in the mostly residential 111th Precinct, which covers Bayside, Little Neck, Auburndale, Hollis Hills and Fresh Meadows.

“The crimes are typically different — property thefts vs. violent crimes,” the captain said. “The general interaction with the public is the same.”

Huerta said that since starting the job he has made his rounds in the neighborhood, meeting civic leaders, elected officials and clergy members and studying crime patterns.

“The first thing you do when you take over a command is analyze the crime,” he said.

That analysis has revealed a recent spike in robberies and burglaries in a few hot spots around Auburndale and has led to what Huerta said were “a few very good arrests.”

As property theft continues to be a major problem — grand larcenies were up more than 50 percent over last year — the captain said people should take proactive steps to guard their valuables.

“It amazes me that people still leave laptops, wallets, purses in their cars. If people didn’t do that, we wouldn’t have all these vehicle break-ins, he said. “If people would take heed and not leave valuables in their car, there would be a lot less crime.”

Identity theft scams involving ATMs are on the rise as well, Huerta said, and he said the best action people can take to protect themselves is to cover the keypad when entering their code.

The 111th Precinct holds its community council meetings on the first Tuesday of each month and Huerta encourages people to visit the station house, at 45-06 215th St. in Bayside, to share their concerns.

“The way I operate, when the community comes to me with something, I make sure it gets addressed,” he said.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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