By John McLoughlin
Rockaway's two police precinct ended 1999 with sharp declines in major crimes. Compared to major crime statistics in 1998, which include murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, grand larceny, and auto theft, there was a 12.6 percent decline in the 100 Precinct during 1999 and a 11.2 percent decline in the 101 Precinct for the same period. Both precincts surpassed Patrol Borough Queens South average decline in major crime of 10 percent.
In the 100 Precinct, some noticeable reductions were in rapes and robberies. From 1998, there was a 55 percent decline in rape and a 31 percent decline in robbery. The only increase was murder, rising from zero in 1998 to six in 1999.
The 101 Precinct had a 34 percent decline in rape for 1999, a 18 percent reduction in robbery, and a 19 percent decline in assault.
The 100 and 101 Precincts registered in with the lowest number of major crimes in the entire borough of Queens.
Commanding Officer of the 100 Precinct, Captain Gary Scirica, attributed the decline to three reasons; community participation, individual efforts of police officers, and a proactive approach by the department. Scirica said his cops "go above and beyond the call of duty," referring to the drop in crime as a "serious dedication on their part."
Referring to the increase in murder, Scirica said a 1998 fire that left one dead was declared arson in 1999, another murder was a domestic incident, and the other four murders were done by assailants that knew their victims. "Stranger occurrences are down dramatically," Scirica said.
Deputy Inspector Mike Morley of the 101 Precinct also mentioned that stranger crimes are down in his precinct, with the "zero tolerance" approach attributing to the decline in major crimes.
Besides addressing low-level quality of life issues, the 101 Precinct is working with Queens Narcotics to go after those selling drugs. Morley said that by eradicating drugs, which often result in stranger crimes, there would be a major impact on major crimes.
There was an increase in grand larceny and auto theft in 1999, which Morley and his officers are addressing. The thefts usually occur in the midnight hours, so Morley has assigned a sergeant and two officers to specifically deal with these concerns during those hours.
Both Scirica and Morley urged residents to take advantage of programs the precincts offer as ways to prevent crimes. Such crime prevention programs include how to properly display jewelry and pocketbooks, vinetching cars (which has an added bonus of an insurance discount), and safety measures for homes and apartments (lighting, locks, etc.).
Morley said residents should "use commonsense, instincts," as ways to prevent themselves from being victims. Referring to residents as the "eyes and ears" of the police, Morley said "don't be afraid" to provide tips, which can be anonymous.
As for those thinking about committing a crime in the following year, Captain Scirica said, "If you think you're going to beat the system, think again." Scirica said the "police department is relentless in follow-though" and those who commit a crime "will be caught."