13th Precinct's Top Cop Hails Overall Crime Drop
CHELSEA — Overall, Deputy Inspector Ted Berntsen thinks the NYPD's 13th Precinct had a very good year in 2010.
The cop in charge of the precinct in eastern Chelsea and Gramercy pointed to a 10.6 percent overall decrease in crime over the course of 2010, his first full year on the job. The precinct even got a mayor's citation for having the second biggest drop in crime in the city in 2010.
Berntsen was speaking as part of the Flatiron 23rd Street Partnership's fall speaker series.
Still, certain crimes in the precinct persisted — or even rose — between 2009 and 2010, according to DNAinfo's Crime & Safety Report. Combined with the 17th Precinct, Murray Hill and Gramercy ranked as the 57th safest neighborhood in the city out of 69.
More than 70 percent of the crime in the 13th precinct is property crime, such as burglary and grand larcenies, the deputy inspector said. Berntsen admitted that those were the hardest types of crimes to combat, but blamed the high number on repeat offenders.
"They aren't a one-time guy," he said. "They're criminals. They're hardened criminals."
The deputy inspector also warned business owners to put security cameras around their rear freight entrances, which he said were vulnerable entry points for prowling crooks.
Violent crime also saw small but significant increases in the 13th precinct, which Berntsen linked largely to nightlife. There were three murders in 2010: two execution-style killings outside of Club Roam at 5 E. 19th St. in October, and a third at a 14th Street diner filled with clubgoers the same month.
The number of rapes also rose from 8 to 13 between 2009 and 2010. Berntsen said all of those rapes were 'acquaintance rapes' — involving someone the victim knew or had recently met.
"Personally, I think it's the drinks," he said, blaming popular high-alcohol drinks such as the Martini and Manhattan. "In 90 percent of these cases, alcohol is involved. People get so intoxicated that they don't know what they're doing."
Berntsen said that only one percent toxicology reports in sex crimes cases citywide come back with proof that a victim had been slipped a drug. The department is currently working with nightlife operators to better train staff to spot the warning signs that someone might be too drunk to fend for themselves.
"I'd rather have someone get in a cab or go to the hospital than be off on their own," he said.
For the future, Berntsen said he would like to have more officers on the streets for quality of life issues, such as illegally parked food trucks, and to deal with high-traffic, high-crime areas of the precinct, such as Union Square.
"Part of my goals, part of my vision, is to lock up anyone doing anything wrong," said Berntsen.
"That's how you get crime down."