The forum was hosted by AAMUS Executive Director Julio Batista in response to concerns about rising crime rate in the area. Representatives from the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, NYPD, and various political officials and organizations came to discuss the issue.
Israel Browne, a local resident, said that he had been robbed at gunpoint while walking home from the train station at 108th Avenue and 86th Street. The attacker had a getaway car and stole his cell phone.
“I felt like they must have been following me for weeks,” Browne said, questioning the number of undercover police units in the area.
Maria Batista also added that few police cars could be seen patrolling the neighborhood during early morning hours. “We need a safer environment,” she said.
Community Affairs officers from the 102nd Precinct, Jose Severino and Joseph Martins, said that though this summer had brought a small rise in crime for the area, ways to prevent cell phone and auto thefts included hiding electronics that might be seen from the windows of a car or keeping your cell phone and other valuables secure while walking during early or late hours.
The 106th Precinct has seen an overall spike of 7.56 percent in crime within the last year, including an estimated increase of 22.2 percent in robberies, a 32.6 percent increase in grand larcenies and a 50 percent increase in rape from 2011 to 2012.
“The agencies need to work together to get some better protection out in the neighborhood,” said Batista.
Assemblyman Mike Miller, who represents the neighborhoods of Woodhaven, Ridgewood, Richmond Hill, Ozone Park and Glendale, said he would be introducing a bill that could help people whose cell phones had been stolen.
If passed, Miller said wireless providers would deactivate the LAN number so that the phone could not be sold or re-used.
“This bill would make the phone valueless to somebody who steals it from you,” Miller said.