UPPER MANHATTAN — Local leaders and residents met with Community Board 12 Tuesday to discuss priorities for the 2012 City fiscal budget in Washington Heights and Inwood.
Although needs varied from after-school programming and tennis courts for children, to preserving cultural institutions and creating new community space, one issue that drew the most agreement was the need for more cops in the neighborhood.
“We can’t sleep at night in Inwood, the youth are out of control,” said one community member who pleaded with the board to rank increased patrols and police as a top priority.
The board ranked increasing "the number of Police Officers in the 33rd and 34th Precinct" as its first expense priority last year in its annual Statement Of District Needs And Priorities. That request was unheeded by the city.
"I hear your frustration and I share your frustration, but we have ranked getting more police officers year after year and have not had our request filled," said CB12 member Elizabeth Lorris-Ritter, adding that community residents should also pressure local City Council members with such requests.
Crime in Upper Manhattan has seen an uptick this year, especially in the 34th Precinct.
Overall crime is up 15.89 percent in the 34th Precinct year-to-date, according to NYPD statistics for the week of Oct. 3 through 9. In August, overall crime had surged 22.95 percent year to date, resulting in the removal of the commanding officer of the precinct.
In the 33rd Precinct, overall crime is down 1.74 percent year-to-date, according to NYPD statistics for the same period, but murder, rape, felony assaults and burglaries are up individually.
Although DNAinfo.com’s Crime & Safety Report, which pairs NYPD crime statistics and 2010 U.S. Census data to rank neighborhood crime rates per capita, found Inwood and Washington Heights came in as the third and fourth safest neighborhoods out of 17 in Manhattan during 2010, residents were slow to celebrate the ranking in light of recent crime spikes.
An additional 50 police officers were dispatched temporarily through the NYPD’s Operation Impact program to address a crime wave in the 34th Precinct during the summer. Last year a similar influx of cops was assigned to the area during a crime surge, only to be reassigned as soon as the crime wave seemed to wane.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly recently told State Sen. Adriano Espaillat the extra police “won’t leave anytime soon,” Espaillat's spokesman said.
But many say the on again off again police surges won’t make a permanent dent in crime.
“When the cops flooded our neighborhood last year, crime moved south into the 33rd Precinct,” said Hudson Heights resident Eddie Culver, who said his apartment building has been burglarized several times during the past year.
“It’s a matter of logic, criminals target areas where they don’t see a police presence. Things uptown won’t change until we have more cops on the street on a permanent basis.”
After hearing neighborhood concerns, CB12 members ranked their top priorities Tuesday night. Those responses will be aggregated by the end of the month before the board’s Statement Of District Needs And Priorities is submitted to the City.