Patrol For B.116 St.
After several reports in both The Wave and daily newspapers about the merchant and resident concerns about Beach 116 Street quality of life issues, the 100 Precinct finally agreed last week to place a daily patrol officer along the commercial strip.
This was good news to local merchants who say the epidemic of aggressive panhandling scares away customers and is hurting their businesses.
The patrol was the result of a recent meeting with new 100 Precinct Commanding Officer Scott Alexa. This week, the 100 Precinct Community Council asked about the possibility of a regular police presence in response to the problems plaguing residents and merchants on the street.
The request was first made when Tom Barrett was deputy inspector of the Precinct and the Council requested more police presence on the commercial strip. Alexa announced this week that the Precinct will start providing coverage Monday through Friday, from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., effective immediately. The officer will patrol the entire block from Ocean Promenade to Newport Avenue.
“It’s a start,” 100 Precinct Com- munity Council President Danny Ruscillo said. “It was good to see a police officer patrolling there. We’ll see how it goes.”
Problems affecting the area include panhandling by local residents of both the adult homes in the area and the numerous SRO hotels. The panhandlers often block entranceways to businesses and harass shoppers, sometimes getting angry if someone doesn’t give them money.
The 100 Precinct Community Council and Community Board 14 meetings routinely bring out residents who complain about the quality of life on Beach 116 Street. The foot patrol, Ruscillo believes, is a step in the right direction.
Panhandling is not illegal, but when it becomes aggressive and residents or shoppers become intimidated, the police can intervene, especially if they witness the aggressiveness in progress. The police can also ask panhandlers to move if they are blocking the entrance to a business, as they frequently do in front of places such as Capital One Bank and Pickles and Pies, among many other places.