Anyone who passes East 87th Street and Avenue L at any given time of day might witness an unsavory site – a suspicious group of men hanging out near the corner or outside stores.
A recent NYPD Build the Block in meeting in Canarsie, attended by over 30 residents, provoked a recurring question: Is there something that can actually be done about shady characters – who are not youngsters – hanging out on avenues like this?
The Canarsie Courier asked Neighborhood Coordination Officers (NCOs) from Sector D, officers Ioana Matiuta and Yuri Enorme, during their quarterly meeting via Zoom, about what can be done to curtail adult violence within their patrol boundaries, which encompasses the southwestern portion of the 69th Precinct.
“There was a person shot recently near East 87th Street and Avenue L – an area that’s been a problem for a long time,” said Matiuta, who was asked the age of the suspects and victims in the incident. “Since it’s mostly adult men – some who have jobs – who are just hanging around outside the deli and laundromat not really doing anything illegal, it’s difficult to enforce,” she explained.
Many community leaders have been pushing for more resources that would benefit youths, including extracurricular activities and leadership engagement. However, for the older criminals who don’t fall into the “youth-at-risk” category, it is a harder egg to crack.
“If the men hanging out at that location are drinking or there’s a disorderly group, we can take action and approach them differently. Otherwise, we can only issue them summonses for minor offenses – and as everyone knows, pot is legal so we can’t arrest them for that. Many of the things they are doing – just standing out there – are not illegal,” said Matiuta, who’s been with the 69th Precinct for eight years and joined the NCO team in 2018.
One resident said groups of men can be seen hanging out at that location from as early as 7 a.m. until late at night.
Recidivism rates within Canarsie are also an issue, as many offenders can be arrested for various crimes multiple times, only to be released back into the community to repeat their dangerous behavior. The NCOs were transparent in their experiences with responding to calls wherein the same perpetrator is repeatedly apprehended for an array of crimes.
One of the solutions offered by the NCOs is for residents to establish strong block associations so neighbors can help each other funnel and disperse important information, look out for suspicious activity and report it collectively as a group.
The NCOs vowed to provide more police patrol to the west of Remsen Avenue and Avenue L. Mayor Eric Adams recently enforced an “All Out” program, putting more officers on the beat at troubled locations. East 87th Street and Avenue L isn’t one of the locations marked for this patrol, but the NCOs will push to have it added to the roster.
They will also be encouraging residents or businesses with surveillance cameras to come forward with any footage they may have of suspicious activity in the area.
Residents said the “hot spot” has been somewhat quiet lately due to the winter, but they expect an uptick in activity to resume as the days get longer and warmer.
The NCOs also reported on crime stats within Sector D. Most shootings incidents, they allege, have occurred from perpetrators driving through the neighborhood.
“A lot of random shootings are often fired from someone who shoots off their weapon and gets back into their car and flees the area,” Matiuta said. “That’s why we’re asking the public to let us know about suspicious vehicles on their block – the ones parked or double parked there for long periods of time, maybe with heavily-tinted windows and a driver who you know does not live on the block. If you don’t recognize the car or it’s blocking your driveway for a long time, it could be a warning that needs to be addressed. You know your block better than we do – you live there and you know who belongs there and who doesn’t.”
For details on the next NCO meeting, follow the precinct’s Twitter page at @NYPD69Pct.