2000-12-30 / Front Page

Crime Down In Rockaway

What A Difference A Year Makes
By Joan Ward George

Crime statistics continued to drop steadily across the entire Rockaway peninsula during 2000 with some dramatic decreases in the 100 Precinct in murder, assault, burglary and grand larceny.

Major crime categories such as murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary, grand larceny and auto theft reached a total of 556 in 1999. For the reporting period of December 17, 1999 to December 17, 2000, the 100 Precinct had 508 total crimes in the major categories. This decrease by 8.63 percent is two percent better than the average decrease across all Queens Borough South precincts.

The 100 Precinct reported 11 rapes this year as compared to 3 in 2000; robbery was up by 3.3 percent from 91 in 1999 to 94 in 2000; and auto theft was up 6.0 percent from 67 in 1999 to 71 in 2000.

The 101 Precinct showed some declines in robbery, assault, burglary and grand larceny, with reported overall crimes in the major index categories of 1,414 for 1999 and 1,397 for the same period ending December 19, 2000. This represents an overall crime reduction in the 101 Precinct of 1.2 percent. There were seven murders in the 101 in 1999, compared to nine in 2000. Rapes rose from 22 in 1999 to 37 in 2000. Auto thefts were up 17.2 percent with 204 reported in 1999, as compared to 239 in 2000. However robbery was down 2.1 percent; assault down 5.8 percent; burglary down 8.6 percent; and grand larceny down 7.7 percent.

Although the decline in crime stats in the 101 Precinct might not appear all that impressive in the latest report, it is important to note that from July, 2000 to the first week in December, crime decreased 11 percent for the same period last year. Credit for this steady decline in major crimes has been given to 101 Precinct Commanding Officer Deputy Inspector Gary Scirica.

Scirica who was transferred from the 100 to the 101 Precinct in July, 2000 found the Far Rockaway precinct at a 10 percent increase in crime for the same period of the previous year.

Scirica approached the problems in the 101 Precinct with a three-fold initiative program. First, "Operation Riptide", which essentially meant the reorganization of the resources available to his command. These included, rearranging everyone’s work schedules so that their on-duty hours would coincide with the times when crimes were occurring in the precinct. Additionally, Scirica reached out to Queens Borough Patrol for help from their robbery, warrants, and gang units, as well as for additional narcotics coverage.

"Operation Welcome Home" was also started up by Scirica recently at the 101 Precinct. This initiative calls for all parolees returning to residences in the neighborhood to actually report to their parole officers at the precinct. Therefore, when the parolees into see their parole officers, they know the police in the precinct are aware that they are back on the street, and the police are aware of any restrictions that might have been placed on them by their parole board.

Scirica attributes the steady decline in crime to the cops a the 101 Precinct. "They are taking a lot of guns off the street," Scirica said. "I also appreciate the community the way they take time out to work with the cops." According to Scirica, the two basic things that make it possible to fight crime are the cops and the community working together toward that common goal.

100 Precinct Commander Captain John Miller attributes his command’s decline in major crimes this year to the cops just working harder and harder. "The really big thing we have going for us in the 100 Precinct is that we have a really good liaison with the community and they let us know what is going on and that’s how we are able to keep on top of things," Miller said.

Deputy Inspector Michael Morley, Operations Commander, Patrol Borough Queens South, credits the steady reduction in crime in the 100 and 101 Precincts directly to Scirica and Miller. "They are very effective commanding officers who are constantly watching out to improve quality of life in the Rockaways and they utilize effective crime strategies and follow up on all leads," Morley said. Prior to his promotion to Deputy Inspector and transfer to the borough command, Morley served as the commanding officer of both the 100 and 101 Precincts.

Both commanding officers stress that the citizens of Rockaway continue in their efforts of staying involved with community issues. If something or someone seems suspicious, the police want you to let them know. You don’t have to get involved directly, in fact, you should not. However, keeping an eye out for yourself, your family and your neighborhood and keeping contact with your local police is a good way to continue the crime decline on the peninsula.

After studying the most recent crime statistics report Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced last week that the precincts that compromise Queens South, including the 100 and 101 Precincts, major crimes have declined again this year overall by 6.71 percent.

"The Police Department’s crime control strategies and our office’s focus on career criminals and other violent predators continues to drive down the rate of robberies, burglaries and other violent street crime," Brown said. "In addition, our office’s proactive investigations of organized narcotics trafficking across Queens has also helped eliminate much of the violence that ordinarily plagues areas afflicted by drug trafficking. It is clear that enhanced investigative efforts and heightened narcotics enforcement, as well as our persistence in convicting career criminals and repeat offenders, have ad a major impact on crime in Queens County."

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