One of the many positive aspects of the monthly 69th Precinct Community Council meetings is the tremendous turnout by members of the community who show their support for our local police and the Community Council.
The February 28th meeting, held at the Hebrew Educational Society, 9502 Seaview Avenue, was no different. Residents packed the auditorium, and although Mayor Eric Adams was a no-show, Ruel Stephenson, NYPD Deputy Chief, Patrol Borough Brooklyn South, was in attendance, and a new 69th Precinct Executive Officer, Darryl Smallwood, was introduced. Captain Smallwood joins the precinct from the neighboring 63rd Precinct, where he served as Executive Officer for one year.
Commanding Officer of the 69th Precinct, Deputy Inspector Khandakar Abdullah, gave an update on crime statistics, stating that crime is moving in a positive direction. Over the most recent 28-day period, there has been a decrease across the board for the seven major crime categories, and year to date, the precinct is down in six of the seven categories.
Shooting incidents are also down by 20%, as well as shooting victims which are down by 50%.
“It’s all very promising, and we want to keep this going for the rest of the year,” Abdullah said.
“We want to make this neighborhood safe, and most importantly, we want your feeling of safety and security to improve. That’s our job.”
On the flip side, robberies have increased marginally in the 69th Precinct and petit larceny has jumped by 50% over the 28-year period and by 27%, year to date. The majority of these crimes involve autos and can be prevented by not leaving personal property, such as wallets, credit cards and anything visible, inside your car. Abdullah said that although many of the cars are unlocked, making these thefts a crime of opportunity, thieves are also smashing windows to gain access to vehicles.
Theft of unattended vehicles continues to be a problem, and residents are advised not to leave their cars running. Japanese cars – Hondas, Nissans and Toyotas – have been hit the hardest, but any car can be a target.
Abdullah believes we can improve the community by working with others. The precinct joined Councilwoman Mercedes Narcisse for a discussion on gun violence held the previous day at the Bayview Houses. The event focused on teaming up with violence interrupter groups, such as Man Up! and CCD, that help to reduce gun violence.
The Explorers Program for youth, ages 13 to 17, has 19 members, and Abdullah said that the precinct wants to recruit more youths into the program, which meets every Tuesday. Stop by the precinct to fill out an application. Two additional youth officers, making a total of four, were recently added to the precinct, providing coverage from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Twelve field training officers were also recently assigned to the precinct. The officers work two shifts, one starting at 11 a.m. and the other at 6 p.m., and patrol in the areas of Flatlands Avenue, Glenwood Road and Rockaway Parkway.
Deputy Inspector Abdullah presented a Cop of the Month Award to Officer Zureno Wilson, a member of the Neighborhood Safety Team. Officer Wilson was patrolling with his team on January 1st, when he observed a male adjusting his waistband, which revealed the handle of a firearm. When they approached the male, he pointed the gun at the cops. They were able to successfully apprehend the individual, remove the firearm and place him into custody.
Abdullah said his officers put themselves in harm’s way routinely and that Officer Wilson, who previously served with the U.S. Army Joint Terrorist Task Force Unit for three years, is doing a phenomenal job. “In the five years he has been with the department, he has made 53 arrests, five of which were gun arrests.”
Next, Abdullah introduced Deputy Chief Ruel Stephenson and thanked him for 28 years of service to the NYPD. Stephenson oversees the operational function of 13 precincts within Brooklyn South (the most number of precincts in any patrol borough).
Born in Jamaica, Stephenson moved here when he was 10 years old. “I landed right in Brooklyn South, in the 70th Precinct,” he told Canarsie residents. After working in various roles across the city, and serving as commanding officer in two precincts, he’s made a return to Brooklyn South, where he has served as Deputy Chief for almost four years.
He never dreamed of joining the police force – in fact, his friends and family suggested he was a “sellout” – but he said he looked at it as an opportunity to be a change in the police department, and he has seen many changes over the years.
“In the last 28 years, I have seen a transition – a police department that is more receptive, more open to ideas, more inclusive of folks joining and being a partnership, and more accountability and transparency, “Stephenson said.
He attributed this success to community involvement. “When I look up the word ‘partnership’ in the dictionary, I see ‘69 Council’ – and that includes the community. This is the way you do it. You guys come out in force. You hold us accountable and that’s how we are able to do what we do and be better at it.”
He spoke about the importance of forging relationships with police officers and Neighborhood Coordination Officers and said that the decline in crime across the entire borough was achieved through community partnership. “Community people are doing their part, giving us information and helping us.”
“I want to say to your council, that what you do here in the 69 Precinct should be emulated citywide. Every council, if they were smart, they would say, ‘Listen, I want to know what the 69 is doing. I want to come and take notes and say this is how you do it. This is what we should be doing – how we should be impacting our community.’”
He expressed his confidence in two great leaders within the 69th Precinct – Deputy Inspector Abdullah and Captain Smallwood, who he helped “handpick for this precinct because of his intelligence, commitment and drive.”
Following his motivating talk, the Community Council presented Deputy Chief Stephenson with a plaque acknowledging his many years of commitment to the NYPD and Canarsie.