Residents within the 63rd Precinct Sector D area came ready to talk about something other than car problems at their quarterly Build the Block meeting held on March 3rd at the Flatlands Reformed Church, 3931 Kings Highway.
Neighborhood Coordination Officers (NCOs) Jonathon Perez and Mario Guerrero have been assigned to Sector D, covering New Amersfort, Glenwood and Flatlands, for a little over a year now and welcomed the familiar faces of concerned citizens eager to hear about the latest police updates affecting their community. But after a while, some felt dissatisfied because so many of the conversations at this and other meetings sound the same to them.
Most of the complaints were related to recurring problems with vehicular issues such as abandoned cars and cars with bogus plates, with newer concerns about cars parking on sidewalks and in driveways. Towing operations were also discussed again.
Loitering by smoke shops during certain hours was also reported and residents were advised to call 311. According to Perez, if enough calls about a location make the weekly 311 call list, the shop can be subjected to business inspections by the 63rd Precinct Special Operations unit.
“No disrespect for people’s concerns, because everybody’s important, but all I hear is ‘car, car, car,’” Denise Gourdine told the Canarsie Courier. She wanted to find out what criminal elements were going on in the sector because her impression was that she was living in the safest place in Brooklyn.
“The main conditions that we get are the parking conditions, mainly illegal parking that is reported through the 311 system,” Perez said, adding that most were petty sort of crimes and noise complaints and that residents should just be alert.
“We did have a lot of crime in our precinct, but that was from month-to-month patterns,” Perez said. He mentioned two homicides, shootings, stolen cars and catalytic converter thefts.
Guerrero added information to confirm that the person involved in a stabbing homicide turned himself in, but both homicides are still under investigation.
Perez believes that crimes are down because the community is speaking up, so they can address their concerns more effectively, which is the purpose of the Build the Block meetings.
“Thankfully, right now, it’s a new year and we’re trying to start out fresh and encouraging everybody to talk to us and have a conversation to keep crime down, but we can’t do that without your help,” he said.
One resident said she didn’t feel comfortable talking about a particular house in that setting, but the simple solution was to see the NCO privately after the meeting.
“I hope everybody is comfortable by now so you can talk to me,” Perez said. “I’m very approachable.” He said he would like them to be his eyes and ears and to contact him with any concerns but to call 911 if they see a crime in progress. He left business cards and informed them of their hours, which are Tuesday to Saturday, from 1:30 to 10:30 p.m.
A few people complained that the location for the 63rd Precinct Community Council meetings is not accommodating because not everyone has a car and the bus stop is so far away from the John Malone Center.
Gourdine told the Canarsie Courier that it is especially important for her to attend because she is on Community Board 18’s Safety Committee, but she doesn’t have a car and isn’t comfortable walking down that long deserted stretch to get from the bus to the meeting place at night.
Some wanted to know if they could change or rotate the location. Perez suggested going virtual, but then residents said that would be a problem for seniors who don’t have internet, computers or cell phones, or don’t know how to use them. Perez said he would speak to the Community Affairs officer to see if they can figure something out.
He was pleased with the attendance that night. Some residents pointed out that they have found ways to network among themselves to make sure the information is shared with more people.
Perez asked if there were any more questions to which a resident called out, “Keep up the good work.” He smiled and said, “Thanks, I really appreciate that – we work hard.”