2000-06-17 / Editorial/Opinion

No Summer Cops… ‘Waz’-Up?

It was clearly evident this past weekend that Rockaway once again came up with the short end of the stick as far as police coverage is concerned. It was only June 10 and 11, a little early in the summer season, but with temperatures predicted to be high in the 90s, someone in the hierarchy of the NYPD should have been wise enough to figure out that Rockaway’s beaches would be packed and more cops were needed on the peninsula.

Traveling up and down Beach 116 street, the last stop on the A-line train and the last stop for the major bus lines that drop off the thousands and thousands of DFD’s ("down for the day" folks), one could not help but notice the utter lack of a police presence. In fact, several times during the busy Saturday afternoon there was only one police officer recognizable on the street and this officer’s overwhelming problem was simple traffic control. Rockaway’s own residents find it impossible to park at the muni-meters during high peak beach hours, yet they still must pick up dry cleaning, go to the bank or the bakery, make a stop at the delicatessen, hardware or stationery stores, or visit one of the local florists. A quick stop at the curb to take care of an errand renders one an automatic parking summons. This seems to be the top priority of any police person you are able to distinguish on the street. Meanwhile, the DFD’s who take their cars to Beach 116 street to park for the entire day, drive endlessly around in circles, tying up traffic interminably until they find their "spot for the day" and boldly head off to the beach, most often without bothering to stop at the muni-meter center to pay for the privilege.

The cutthroat tactics employed to get parking spaces, coupled with the extremely high temperatures, result in motorists at their worst, with heated arguments and physical confrontations being the norm. Our local police precinct has requested a full compliment of "summer detail" police officers, but where are they? Memorial Day has come and gone and July 4th is upon us, yet the powers that be at 1 Police Plaza have thumbed their noses at Rockaway as we wait for "summer detail" to arrive.

With only one police officer assigned to Beach 116 street who has any knowledge of the area, the merchants and the intrinsic problems of the strip, one can only expect to see more and more problems evolve as the dog days of summer come upon us. Traffic is most definitely a problem. Illegal parking is most definitely a problem. "Summer detail" officers should be able to handle these problems, when they are not gathered together in air conditioned environments catching a meal, or down on the boards sunning themselves and watching the bathing beauties stroll by, as they have been known to do in the past. Under supervision of someone familiar with Rockaway’s summer situation, the summer detail officers are sorely needed and Rockawayites should demand that the NYPD’s brass give the immediate go ahead to our precinct’s request for this year.

The "beat cop", familiar with the particular potential problems along Beach 116 street, is what is needed to keep order on the street. The "beat cop" is there to assure the quality of life for Rockaway residents during the summer months. Beach 116 street recently lost one daytime "beat cop" to reassignment and that officer has not as yet been replaced. Beach 116 street needs its beat cops assigned to the street on a regular basis, replaced when one is reassigned, and not detailed off the peninsula for other pressing citywide NYPD duties. Beat cops and officers familiar with Rockaway is what we should be demanding from the NYPD. Rockaway’s quality of life and the safety of its residents should be a top priority of the NYPD. Powers that be, give us our "summer detail" and make a firm commitment to our "beat cops". Don’t let Rockaway become a horror scene like the past weekend in Central Park and Coney Island.

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