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State Senate Candidate Pledges to Add a New Inwood Precinct to Stop Crime

By DNAinfo Staff on July 17, 2012 10:36am

Assemblyman Guillermo Linares pledged to create a new Inwood precinct to cut down on crime.
Assemblyman Guillermo Linares pledged to create a new Inwood precinct to cut down on crime.
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DNAinfo/Claudio E. Cabrera

Claudio E. Cabrera

Special to DNAinfo.com New York

INWOOD — A state senate candidate vying to oust Adriano Espaillat is promising to create a new  police precinct in Inwood to help tamp down what locals see as an alarming spike in violence.

Assemblyman Guillermo Linares told the hundred residents who packed into City Councilman Robert Jackson's town hall meeting Tuesday, "If I'm elected, I will guarantee a precinct for Inwood."

Inwood is currently served by the NYPD's 34th Precinct, which also covers the northern portion of Washington Heights. Overall crime is down 15 percent in the precinct, according to Compstat. However, there have been several troubling incidents in recent months, including a series of muggings and a murder the night of July 4th.

A spike in violent crime has led some in Inwood to question whether police are overstretched.
A spike in violent crime has led some in Inwood to question whether police are overstretched.
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DNAinfo/Claudio E. Cabrera

A spke Inwood local Annette A. Aguilar, a professional musician and educator who has lived in the neighborhood for more than two decades, agreed with the suggestion.

"It's out of control and it's obvious that the 34th Precinct is overwhelmed,” Aguilar said. “Not to take away from Washington Heights, but we need much more of a police presence here with everything that's been happening.”

Deputy Inspector Barry Buzzetti, the commanding officer of the 34th Precinct, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Jackson said he planned to work with police to install five to seven cameras throughout parks in his district with the $700,000 allocated to crime safety in his budget through the Council.

Espaillat, who was also at the meeting, called for a plan to be devised by next week by local residents, politicians and the council to present to the 34th Precinct and 1 Police Plaza.

"We can't keep coming here every summer and meeting without coming up with a solution,” Espaillat said, referring to previous summers in which the community has called for increased police presence above Dyckman Street. “We need a reasonable, actionable plan to help stop crime in this neighborhood to present to police officials.”

Earlier Monday night, Jackson, Espaillat and Linares had attended the 34th Precinct Community Council meeting at the northern entrance of Isham Park. The public meeting drew approximately 60 residents from the immediate area looking to discuss concerns about recent incidents.

Precinct council president George Espinal said he plans to create a community email list where residents can share information about crime in the neighborhood.

Espinal asked those present to mark on a map he passed around which areas they feel are most dangerous in Inwood Hill Park and Isham Park.

"This map will be brought back to the police department so they know where the problem areas are, and can staff police around these sites," Espinal explained.

But local resident Rich Gallo, who has lived in Inwood for 3 years, didn't feel the map would be of much help.

"We don't need maps, we need cameras and cops," said Gallo. "I fear for my wife's safety and my neighbors as well."

Despite the abundance of community meetings, some residents said they were disappointed by the overt political focus throughout the evening.

Susan Ryan, whose husband was brutally attacked in Isham Park a month ago suffering a broken nose, two black eyes and contusions over his body, said she felt the response was opportunistic.

"Where were they when my husband was brutally beaten?” she asked. “They were too busy campaigning. Now that they aren't, it's back to grabbing every moment to play politics that they can. It's simply political opportunism.”