Inspector Green, who had replaced Chief Inspector Ed Winski as commanding officer in July, mentioned that he had come to the precinct from the Bronx, where he commanded the 45th and 43rd precincts, and had been with the NYPD for 19 years. He was a sergeant in Midtown South from 2001 to 2004. He gave an overview of crime in the precinct, noting that the main problem continues to be grand larceny, mostly involving unattended property. He said that there was a surge in pickpocketing over the summer involving an interactive billboard at Times Square, but it abated once the police got the sponsors of the billboard to alter its format.
Inspector Green noted that most calls in to the precinct have to do with quality of life issues, traffic conditions and the homeless. Noting that homelessness in itself is not a crime, he said that there is little the police can do if an individual does not pose a threat to others, except to offer placement in a shelter. The police can take homeless people off the street in the event of severe weather conditions, and if the homeless are blocking access to premises and refuse to move, they can be arrested. He noted that the frequency of meetings with Amtrak and Port Authority police officials who are involved with the NYPD in a joint operation to deal with homelessness has increased to twice a month in response to the increased incidence of homelessness in the area.
MEETING OPENS FOR COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS
Noelle Mooney of Stout and Failla said there is a homeless problem on 33rd Street near her establishment, where there are 20 to 40 individuals hanging out. Although 70% of these individuals mind their own business, she said, the others are a nuisance and some get aggressive. She noted that staff members had to be escorted to the subway after confronting them. She also asked what was going to happen around Madison Square Garden in terms of street closings in preparation for Pope Francis’ Sept. 25 visit. Inspector Green replied that the Secret Service is the “point person” for the visit but must get information about the pope’s intended itinerary from the Vatican. “When we find out, we’ll tell you,” he said. “Anything is possible.” He added that the effect on pedestrian traffic is expected to be minimal.
John Mudd said that street closing information relayed by police would be put up on the council website.
Alicia Sheppard of the Molly Wee Pub, 8th Avenue and 30th Street, that the homeless are bothering people near her establishment and entering the premises “at any time of day or night,” although “it is not as bad as it was.” Inspector Green said that Sgt. Hansen would discuss the situation with her.
John Clancy of Foley’s on W. 33rd St. said that tourists were being harassed by ticket hawkers for Empire State Building tours. Detective Paul Spano noted that the city had lost in the courts in its effort to rein in the hawkers.
Resident owners in the East 30s mentioned congestion on the Northwest corner of Broadway and 34th Street, noting that the presence of three vendor trucks make it hard for pedestrians to get through the passageway. One of the owners noted that there had been a lot of graffiti removal in their area around Madison Square Park over the summer and commended Officer Martin Reyes, MTS auxiliary police coordinator, and the Midtown Community Court for their efforts in keeping the area clean.
Three representatives of street vendors, all with state veteran vendor licenses, complained that they have been ticketed frequently by police in the wake of a well-publicized fight between two vendors they said were unlicensed. They said they were attending the meeting to bring a voice for disabled veterans. They also said that unlicensed vendors infringe on their territory. Inspector Green said he was learning the vendor rules, and added that if the vendors had any specific complaints, he would take their information and go out to their territory with them. “If anything needs to be fixed, we’ll fix it,” he said.
Co-op board members at Gilsey House, 1200 Broadway, said that the problem of drug trafficking on 29th Street continues. Inspector Green mentioned that an officer has been assigned to patrol 29th and 30th Streets and Broadway from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The residents acknowledged that this could improve the situation and said that Lt. Louis Marines of MTS had been helpful.
A business proprietor on West 36th Street lauded Inspector Green’s hands-on, proactive approach. But he said the problem of illegally parked cars around the precinct continues. He recently counted “86 illegally parked cars within two blocks of your precinct,” and said his staff gets tickets for double parking because they can’t find a space, but other cars, some with placards showing, go unticketed.
Inspector Green noted that 400 people are employed in the precinct and the zone for parking is limited, but said if cars are parked illegally, “we can fix that.”
Officials in attendance: Inspector Russell Green, commanding officer, MTS, Sgt. Erik Hansen, MTS, Det. Paul Spano, MTS Community Affairs, Det. George Manning, MTS Community Affairs, P.O. John O’Reilly, MTS Crime Prevention, P.O. Richard Fazio, NYPD Transit District 1, P.O. Martin Reyes, MTS Auxiliary Police coordinator, Det. Martin Green, Citywide Traffic Task Force auxiliary coordinator
MTS CC President John Mudd, VP Bill Otterson, assistant secretary Frank Kelly
Edgar Yu of Manhattan District Attorney’s Office
Leah Reiss of Council Member Daniel Gorodniick’s office
Kelly of West Garden Spa
Alfredo Marty, Blarney Stone, 410 8th Ave.
David Rios of Rick’s Cabaret and Vivid
Alan Murray of McGettigans, 70 W. 36th St.
Gerard McNamee, representing Slake, NYC, 251 W30th St.
Bo Twiggs, representative from Midtown Community Court, 314 W. 54th St, NY, NY 100019, 646 246 1300
Representatives of Punto event space at 325 W. 38th St.
Yasunori Inoda and Yoshitomi Shigematsu, representatives of Tokyo Metropolitan Police
Twitter account handles: @NYPDMTS, Transit Division @NYPDTRANSIT
The next MTS Community Council meeting will be held on Thursday, October 15, 2015, 7:00 p.m., at the Wyndham New Yorker Hotel on 8th Avenue between 34th and 35th streets.