Community in Need of Captains
by Ed Wendell
Dec 19, 2012 | 1542 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In the aftermath of the disastrous blizzards in early 2011, the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association reconstituted the old Block Captain program that kept the neighborhood informed and on the same page throughout the 70s and 80s.

These days, with all of the social media tools that are available to us, the role of Block Captain has undergone a subtle shift. Instead of being a primary tool for pushing information from the WRBA to residents on each block, the Block Captain now primarily keeps an eye on their part of the community and reports back to us.

This system was used to great effect in the wake of last year’s Hurricane Irene, as we were able to compile a comprehensive list of damages to Woodhaven within a few hours after the storm had ended. This organization, we hope, will lead to more rapid action.

(Our system was in effect during Hurricane Sandy, but the extent of damage during that superstorm was so great and widespread that it was going to take a while before repair crews got to us no matter how organized we were.)

The organization that we've developed could pay off in an interesting way, as it puts us in a great position to take advantage of the NYPD’s Block Watcher program, a reinvention of an old program that they have been rolling out and testing in a few precincts over the past year. As a Block Watcher, you will not be on patrol; in fact, all you are trained to do is report issues directly to your local precinct.

After your training (which will take place here in Woodhaven), you will be issued an ID number that you will use when calling in problems. We will be able to follow up with the 102nd Precinct on these reported issues to ensure they are being addressed.

This is something we all have to participate in. The City of New York is not going to suddenly increase staffing at the 102nd; we are not going to get more cops. So we have to do what we can to help the police we do have.

At last Saturday’s Town Hall Meeting, we signed up 38 Block Watchers, many of whom were already serving as Block Captains. The difference between the two roles is negligible, though the Block Watcher role is a bit more official as it is sanctioned by the NYPD. We need many, many more residents to step up and commit to serving as a Woodhaven Block Watcher.

You can do so by contacting us via telephone (leave us a message at 718-296-3735) or via email (info@woodhaven-nyc.org). We will get you an application and answer any questions you may have.

On a separate, semi-related note, myself and two other residents (my wife, Josephine Wendell and Monica Varona) recently completed Civilian Police Academy. It is a 14-week course given by the NYPD that explains “legal, social and procedural aspects of policing.” Such interesting topics such as Hostage Negotiations, School Safety, and Counter-Terrorism are offered alongside controversial topics such as the use of Force and Stop & Frisk. It is a free course offered twice a year by the NYPD. If you or any other Woodhaven resident is interested, or has questions, please let us know.

And as a final note, as we come to the end of the year we'd like to thank everyone who donated toys for Woodhaven's Toy Drive for the children slammed by Hurricane Sandy. If we judge a community by the way it treats its fellow human beings in their time of need, then the residents of Woodhaven acquitted themselves well.

They were generous, caring and very giving of their time and money. In addition to the wonderful outpouring of generosity from our residents, we were very touched by the response from former residents, many of whom mailed clothing, food or made donations to our relief fund.

Once a resident of Woodhaven, always a resident of Woodhaven. Thank you to all, God bless, Happy Holidays from the Woodhaven Residents' Block Association.

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