101 Council President Aims To Improve Police Relations
By Miriam Rosenberg
“The council gives residents a direct voice to the police rank and file – its commanding officer and an array of other key personnel and it puts faces with names … and creates a partnership,” said Jones, a long-time resident of Far Rockaway. “It creates a human element.”
Jones’ goal is to improve the relationship between the 101 officers and the community.
“I think, now, the relationship between the 101 and the community is fair to good,” Jones said. “I want to make it excellent.”
Jones feels that, at times, there is a sense of mistrust that lies in misunderstanding and a lack of communication between the police and the community. “People are intimated by cops. Sometimes for no reason,” he said.
To bring more people in, Jones has several ideas he will present to the council at the October meeting – including a membership drive and fundraising (which will include dues from council members).
“There really aren’t any members [on the council],” explained Jones. “I want to bring structure and some identity to the group.
“With a membership structure for the organization, members and community residents can be part of a greater forum to discuss issues; working in partnership to come up with problem solving solutions.”
He wants to involve business leaders by forming a business council to get the perspective of business owners on the various issues that face Far Rockaway. Jones also envisions bringing young people into the process by adding a youth component to the community council. “For a lot of young people in the community … who run into conflicts with the law, this would be a chance to voice their concerns,” he said.
Taking the council out to the neighborhoods, he would like it to sponsor such things as ‘stop the violence’ days, ‘kids against drugs’ events, as well as co-sponsoring events with the police.
Jones acknowledges there have been improvements over the last few years, and he gives much of the credit to the 101’s commanding officer Deputy Inspector Walter Salowski.
“Deputy Inspector Salowski has been an advocate for greater communication and greater understanding,” the council president said. “He’s one commanding officer who has walked the beat and made sure the community is safe and both parties know, and play, their roles.” Discussions have already begun with the precinct about taking action on the ideas.
“[Detective] Willie Olmeda and I have spoken about how these things could be implemented for the police department and the community,” commented Jones. By residents and police knowing each other better, Jones strongly feels that communication will improve and misperceptions will dissolve.
“If police come in and recognize someone on the scene [of a crime] it will make the situation better,” added Jones.
“If [the community and the police] can recognize and communicate and operate effectively with each other, then things will improve ten-fold.”
The first meeting of the fall will take place on October 19 at 5:30 p.m. at the 101 Precinct located at 16-12 Mott Avenue in Far Rockaway.