2010-01-15 / Top Stories

Queens Crimes At Historic Low

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced that serious felony crime in Queens County continued its long-term historic decline in 2009. According to preliminary statistics compiled by the New York City Police Department, serious crime took a significant downward turn in nearly all categories in 2009 and has plummeted 78.5 percent in all categories since Brown first took office almost 19 years ago.

Brown said, “These figures serve as a stark reminder of the fact that the law enforcement initiatives and crime prevention policies that we began to put in place back in the early nineties continue to yield huge dividends for the people of Queens County. Overall, serious crime has been reduced by nearly 40 percent since 1991.

Murders, for example – a stalwart benchmark for both prosecutors and police – were 80 in number last year compared to 361 in 1991. Indeed homicides were down last year more than 5 percent – making 2009 the second best year since 1966 and Queens County one of the safest places in New York City to live and work.”

Brown also pointed out continuing positive trends in other crime categories. For example, there were continued significant reductions in Queens County in 2009 in the areas of robbery (down 14.5 percent), grand larceny (down 11.4 percent), burglary (down 8.5 percent) and rape (down 4.1 percent).

The only category to show a slight uptick last year was felony assaults – up 1.8 percent – although the number of felony assaults was below the citywide average and down more than 53 percent since 1993.

The District Attorney noted also that reported motor vehicle thefts fell in 2009 nearly 14 percent from 2008 and an astounding 92.2 percent since 1993 – even though the number of vehicles on the road has doubled. In fact, there were approximately 52,000 cars reported stolen in Queens in 1991, the year in which Brown took office, compared with 3,272 in 2009.

Beyond that, there has been a 48.3 percent drop in crimes involving guns, from 1334 in 1991 to 690 in 2009.

According to a spokesperson for Brown, “In keeping our focus in taking guns off the streets, in February 2009 the Queens District Attorney’s Office joined with the NYPD and community leaders to hold the first-ever gun buyback program in Queens. The one-day initiative resulted in a record 919 weapons being collected at six churches in the Rockaways and the southern part of Queens.

“As Queens County’s chief law enforcement officer, District Attorney Brown leads the fight against crime in Queens County by aggressively prosecuting criminals and protecting the rights of crime victims.

In addition to investigating and prosecuting criminal activity, District Attorney Brown has established cutting edge intervention and prevention programs to reduce crime throughout Queens County.

These initiatives reflect his belief that community mobilization and involvement are critical to reducing crime and revitalizing communities.”

Among those initiatives are the Queens Drug Treatment Alternative to Prison (DTAP Program) and the Queens Treatment Court (QTC), which carefully select non-violent, jail-bound, drug-addicted defendants and divert them into community based residential and out-patient treatment programs as an alternative to incarceration. Defendants selected for the DTAP Program are required to plead guilty upon the condition that they enter and successfully complete a rigorous long-term – 15-24 months – residential treatment program at which time their convictions are vacated. Since 1993, Queens County has among the highest retention and successful completion rates in New York State of defendants who complete DTAP; 75 percent and 70 percent, respectively.

Another initiative is the Queens Family Justice Center which opened approximately 18 months ago and, the spokesperson states, has effectively offered victims of domestic violence one building where they can receive help with their criminal cases while also being offered therapy and other social services necessary for them to move forward, including many services in multiple languages.

Approximately 5,349 clients have visited the Queens Family Justice Center on at least one occasion since it opened in July 2008 and 1,184 children have accessed Margaret’s Place, the children’s room at the Center funded by Joe Torre’s foundation and dedicated to his mother Margaret. Overall, there have been 12,654 total client visits (new and repeat clients) since it opened.

The spokesperson further states that the District Attorney’s Domestic Violence Bureau, which is housed in the Center and handles more than 5,000 cases a year, has the highest conviction rate in the City; it has the lowest dismissal rate; and it takes more pre-indictment felony pleas than the rest of the City combined.

Brown hailed the continuing success of the Queens Child Advocacy Center for children victimized by sexual and physical abuse.

The center, which has been open since 2003, offers comprehensive services to child victims and houses in one location prosecutors, police officers, medical personnel and social service agencies.

By housing all of these agencies in one location, comments Brown, children are spared the trauma of having to repeat his or her story of abuse, which can cut down on the child’s mental anguish.

In 2009, New York City Children’s Services referred 3,242 reports of child neglect, abuse or maltreatment to the District Attorney for screening and tracking to determine criminality. Also in 2009, 1,319 children and their families received services through the Queens Child Advocacy Center.

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