Though the 104th Precinct area that GCOP patrols is a low-crime district, at GCOP's February meeting the group's president, Lou Kirchgessner, said the civilian patrol is worried that could soon change.
"We're going to see a lot more crime with the economy the way it is and people getting laid off," said Kirchgessner. Jack Zwerenz, a founding member of GCOP, which was established in the mid-70's, said the group becomes especially active when the city faces hard times.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, who appeared at the meeting, and whose district includes Glendale, said she would work to ensure that the neighborhood receives increased support from the police department.
"We need more patrols during the day," said Crowley, "and we need to make sure that our district gets its fair share of resources."
Crowley said she opposes Mayor Bloomberg's plans to cut around 1,000 citywide officers from the police force, but was optimistic the federal government would include assistance to police forces in the new economic stimulus package. "I'm reassured with the federal government's plans to put more cops on the streets," said Crowley.
In the meantime, Crowley said, it's up to Glendale residents to remain extra alert to ensure quality of life issues don't start slipping.
"We have to be even more vigilant," said Crowley. "We need to make sure we're more aware now that the economy is bad because crime correlates with that."
Detective John Webber of the 104th Precinct said during difficult economic times petty crime usually increases as out-of-work people look to make money by any means possible. However, said Webber, the precinct enjoyed a surprisingly calm January - crime was actually down compared with January of 2008. Even so, said Webber, this could change as the recession deepens.
Kirchgessner said GCOP has already witnessed an increase in graffiti.
"We need to start catching more [vandals]," said Kirchgessner. "We're getting them, but not like we used to."
Before they can ramp up their efforts, said Kirchgessner, the group needs to have its civilian observation patrol identification badges renewed. GCOP's last two-year badges expired in July of 2008.
Webber said the NYPD will issue the badges as soon as it finishes a reorganization of its citywide civilian observation patrol program. Webber said the police department is working to create a single uniform, identification badge, and set up guidelines to be used by the many civilian patrols connected to precincts across the city.
"They want to make a more uniformed patrol," said Webber. "Once the changes are implemented, GCOP will have their ID's."
Webber said the precinct looks forward to continue working with GCOP to tackle the challenges ahead.
"We love the support we get from them," said Webber. "They're a great help for us."