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Diversity Plaza Gets Dedicated Police Officers to Address Complaints

By Katie Honan | June 24, 2014 5:00pm
 Two police officers will patrol in and around the plaza, according to the deputy inspector. 
Two police officers will patrol in and around the plaza, according to the deputy inspector. 
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DNAinfo/Katie Honan

JACKSON HEIGHTS — Two police officers have begun patrolling Diversity Plaza in response to complaints about vagrants, loud music and other safety issues, according to the precinct's commander — good news for those who say the plaza has become a scourge in the neighborhood.

One officer is stationed on Broadway and 37th Road and another on 74th Street and Roosevelt Avenue, with a focus on "proactively addressing any of the conditions [at Diversity Plaza] as well as making contacts with members of the community and partnerships w/ the community," according to Deputy Inspector Michael Cody of the 115th Precinct.

He made the announcement at Community Board 3's June meeting, which was held outside at the plaza.

"Right here in Diversity Plaza, there's been a lot of complaints of vagrants, loud music, running the gamut," he said. "I know it's a very vibrant area and it's used for a lot of great purposes for the community."

Most of the complaints have been for drinking in public and sleeping on the ground among other things, he added.

The officers are on patrol from 2 p.m. until 6 a.m., Cody said.

The police presence is a welcome addition to some who walk in the plaza every day, some say.

"It's a serious quality of life issue right now," said Ruby Chacko, 38, who lives in Kew Gardens but visits Jackson Heights every day.

"If you see people spitting or harassing others, why not give a summons? It will be a deterrent," she said.

Agha M. Saleh, the founder of Sukhi, a group that helps maintain the plaza, said that it is still a destination despite its problems.

"It's a place to sit and enjoy, eat food," he said, although he did agree with some of the issues brought up at the meeting.

The police can help, but the cleanliness issue requires everyone to step up, he said. 

"Every pedestrian is responsible," he said, adding that Diversity Plaza has three garbage bins provided by the Department of Sanitation after originally opening with eight.

They removed the other trash bins after locals were dumping their household garbage in them, he said.

"Three bins are good enough," he said. "If you don't like this place, go home. Or help."

The Department of Sanitation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.