TURTLE BAY — Midtown East, Turtle Bay and Kips Bay — all patrolled by the 17th Precinct — have seen a significant uptick in the number of tickets issued for criminal offenses between 2009 and 2010.
According to DNAinfo’s comprehensive Crime & Safety Report, the NYPD handed out 15.4 percent more tickets for minor criminal offenses in 2010 than were issued in 2009. That came to a total of 4,253 tickets issued in 2010, compared to 3,685 in 2009.
The NYPD's category of criminal ticketed offenses includes violations such as public urination or drunkenness, and local leaders believe the increase is the result of consistent complaints from residents about the area’s raucous bar scene.
“The community board has been working closely with the precincts to reduce these quality-of-life crimes,” said Mark Thompson, chair of Community Board 6. “And the increase reflects the growth in the problem, as well as the NYPD’s ability to control it.”
Community Board 6 has taken a strong stance against the proliferation of bars that stay open until 4 a.m. and that promote pub crawls. The area in the East 50s around Second and Third avenues has been a particular concern of late.
In recent months, the board’s business affairs and street activities committee has opposed liquor licenses for new establishments that refuse to close by 2 a.m. The community board does not have direct authority in the issuing of such licenses, but the State Liquor Authority does take the board's recommendations into consideration when making its final decision.
In addition, the board’s business affairs and street activities committee has been asking all bar owners who come before its members to sign an agreement stating that they will not participate in pub crawls.
Several area residents have become fixtures at those meetings, coming to voice their disapproval of new bars in an area that they say already has too many. They cite ongoing problems with public urination and vomiting. Noise levels from packs of drunken smokers have also sparked complaints.
Community board members have brought those concerns directly to the 17th Precinct, said Thompson.
“Whatever [the police are] doing is working,” he said.
Several staffers at bars in Turtle Bay said the police have a very strong presence in the neighborhood.
“They’re always here,” said one area bar manager, who declined to give her name.
She said that there were typically four officers who patrol within a several-block radius, but their presence hadn’t had any impact on business.
It has, however, proven helpful when she has closed the bar alone late at night, she said. Whenever she has a problem, she calls the police officers and they come right away.
“The 17th Precinct is doing their job,” she said.
Ivan McNuff has been a bartender in the neighborhood since the 1980s. He said he has watched the neighborhood change over the years, from mostly neighborhood pubs to larger bars with a younger clientele.
“When you have intoxicated young people, you do have what comes with it,” said McNuff, who has been working at the bar Turtle Bay for 10 years.
Although McNuff works mostly during the day, he said he felt the cops' efforts were effective.
“They’re pretty hands on,” McNuff said. “They do a pretty good job of keeping the neighborhood under control.”
Thompson, of Community Board 6, agreed.
“There has been positive reaction,” he said, “but we know that we need to continue to be vigilant.”