Claudio E. Cabrera
Special to DNAinfo.com New York
INWOOD — The commanding officer of the 34th Precinct touted a dip in crime in the neighborhood at a recent public meeting despite growing concerns about a rise in violence and calls for an additional precinct to police the area.
Deputy Inspector Barry Buzzetti told roughly 100 residents packed at a gym at the Northeastern Academy school on West 215th Street Friday that the neighborhood has seen a more than 15 percent drop in overall crime this year compared to 2011. He also emphasized additional police patrols throughout Inwood.
Buzzetti said his main objective in holding Friday’s meeting was to be more available to residents and address concerns.
"The 34th Precinct in my mind is accomplished and experienced," he said. "We are still working on improving our delivery of services."
Buzzetti added that some of the heightened sensitivity to crime might be related to residents being more active in communicating online, but warned residents not to believe everything they see on the Internet, because events can be “exaggerated.”
But Erin Costello, who has lived in the neighborhood for nearly a decade and is active online, was offended by Buzzetti’s comments.
“Right now we have to rely on social media,” she said. “It’s offensive he told us that, because right now we are informing them on things that happen when they should be on top of things before us.”
Residents said they continue to be frustrated by little police presence in area parks, slow 911 response times by police, and the quality of life issues on the Dyckman strip that have led many to coinc the area "Alcohol Alley," which led the 34th Precinct Community Council to approve a resolution calling for more cops on the stretch in April.
They also asked that the 34th Precinct create more fixed police posts throughout Inwood, a suggestion Buzzetti rejected, stating that crime in other areas of the precinct are higher.
"If I take a fixed post there then we would be taking away from another person who doesn't live in the area," he said.
At a meeting held earlier in the week by the 34th Precinct Community Council, Assemblyman Guillermo Linares, who is challenging State Sen. Adriano Espaillat for his State Senate seat, promised local residents he would create an independent precinct for Inwood if elected.
When asked about the campaign promise, Buzzetti said he would not comment, saying, “That is outside of my lane and higher levels of police make those decisions."
Linares, Espaillat and Jackson attended Friday’s meeting as well.
Although residents voiced their displeasure with Buzzetti and the crime fighting tactics of the 34th Precinct, some said they appreciated his openness and availability.
"He is by far the most open police chief I've encountered in my 10 years in this neighborhood," said Inger Tilson-Breton, an Inwood resident and parent of two young children.
Others, like lifetime resident Keith LeBow, who said he has seen this neighborhood change through the years, said Friday night's meeting was just another song and dance.
“I see no real change," LeBow said. "It’s just the same old thing.”