Precinct Realignment is an ‘Essential Necessity’
BY PAMELA WOLFF | Re “NYPD Passes on Precinct Realignment” (news, Jan. 9, 2013):
Commissioner Kelly’s decision to reject a broadly supported community initiative seeking to adjust the boundaries between the 10th and 13th precincts — which would have addressed a still-growing East Chelsea’s business and residential needs — is unfortunate and disappointing.
Among the many benefits such a change would have wrought is bringing the 10th Precinct boundaries into conformity with Community Board 4.
This issue has been ongoing for decades. The Chelsea West 200 Block Association has mounted two campaigns (through the 1980s and 90s), to no avail. This idea is no whim. As the population of East Chelsea becomes more and more residential, it will become more and more demanding of services from its precinct. One day, the voice of this community will be respected.
The Commissioner’s reasoning is flawed. He states that making the change “is not a feasible undertaking for the Department, particularly in the absence of a pressing public safety concern.” Further, he says such tasks must be reserved for where there is an “essential necessity to maintain or enhance police services and public safety.”
The Commissioner’s logic, as applied to his statistics about relative distances from precinct houses to their outermost edges, is not really relevant. More to the point is what is going on at those edges.
I serve on the Community Advisory Committee for the BRC homeless shelter (on 25th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues), which has been open for about two years and serves over 300 citizens daily. The larger Chelsea neighborhood welcomed the arrival of this necessary facility in our neighborhood. We still do. But the monthly statistics of police visits reported at our meetings are a clear indication of the need for enhanced police presence.
The executive director of BRC has offered to finance the presence of a paid detail of police officers. That request has languished on the Commissioner’s desk for at least a year. BRC enjoys a very good relationship with the 13th Precinct, whose officers stretch themselves across the island to respond to an average of eight to ten calls a day to the shelter. The citizenry, residential and businesses, of the immediate blocks around the shelter are up in arms. If this is not a “pressing safety concern,” Commissioner, what is?
It is ironic that all our efforts to affect this change seem to have resulted instead in a bolstering of the 13th Precinct with the recent addition of 14 new officers. This was announced at the last BRC meeting. The 10th also got eight new officers, but these are replacing the same number lost through attrition.
As a representative of the Chelsea West 200 Block Association, I attend the monthly 10th Precinct Community Council meetings. Issues that come up about the BRC presence in the neighborhood are gently referred to the 13th Precinct. Citizens are surprised, then disappointed, to hear that their recourse is to a precinct located between Second and Third Avenues. This is senseless.
As a CB4 member, I am frequently aware of a 10th Precinct presence at our monthly meetings. I cannot say the same for the 13th, which currently covers the blocks from West 14th to West 26th Streets, 6th to 7th Avenues. These are the blocks we have asked to be transferred. They belong to CB4, not CB6 — and according to our City Charter, the precinct boundaries should be co-terminous.
It seems to me that using the bureaucratic hassle of sorting out administrative matters as an excuse is pretty lame. If they could do it in Murray Hill, and in Brooklyn, why not in Chelsea? What’s the loss of old data when compared to the impact on the quality of life of thousands of residents and merchants? New data will accumulate fast enough. If the system is so inadequate that the data can’t be carried over, then maybe it’s time to upgrade.
Finally, let’s look at this issue with an eye to the longer, larger picture. We will have a new mayor, perhaps a new police commissioner — a new ball game. And we all vote.