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Barclays Center Crime is 'Minimal,' Police Say

By Leslie Albrecht | January 30, 2013 10:50am

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — It's a hotspot for world-class entertainment, but not for crime.

Four months after the opening of the Barclays Center, the new arena has hosted 800,000 patrons at 64 events, but it's seen only a handful of crimes, according to Deputy Inspector Michael Ameri, commanding officer of the 78th Precinct.

"Crime is very minimal," Ameri said at a 78th Precinct Community Council meeting Tuesday night. "Overall we've had about five crimes and most of them were just property crimes...I'm very, very happy and I think the community's happy, because I'm not hearing many complaints."

The few crimes at the Barclays Center have been limited to property thefts, such as cell phones stolen from the employee locker room, Ameri said. Cops have also seen minor issues like disorderly conduct and ticket scalping, he said, and police responded to a crowd of rowdy Justin Bieber fans in November.

But more serious crimes have been largely absent at the 18,000-seat arena, which has big-name acts like The Rolling Stones and Jay-Z. "There's really no robberies…no one getting assaulted," Ameri said. "Even the patrons, they’re not assaulting each other."

The "biggest issue" police have encountered so far has been double parked and idling limos and chauffeured black cars outside the arena, Ameri said, a problem that he said "maybe wasn't anticipated" by the city and the arena. Police and arena officials are working on a solution, he said.

Overall crime in the 78th Precinct dropped about 1 percent in 2012, Ameri said, including a 9 percent drop in robberies. He said he was pleased with the numbers, especially in light of the fact that the 78th Precinct's territory expanded last year to include the Barclays Center and the Atlantic Center Mall.

The precinct's new boundaries brought an influx of new officers. Ameri wouldn't say exactly how many new cops had been added, but he said his ranks had swelled "significantly" — about 25 percent. That's a sharp contrast to many precincts around the city that are struggling with reduced staffing, he said.

"I have received a sunstantial amount," Ameri said. "We have more than enough officers. I'm very comfortable with the level of policing we have."