At Tuesday evening’s 84th Precinct Community Council Meeting, as expected, Deputy Inspector Sergio Centa (photo), the Precinct Commanding Officer, faced many questions about security in Brooklyn Bridge Park and on Brooklyn Heights streets, especially Joralemon, used by pedestrians going to and from the Park. He noted that his requests for additional officers to be assigned to the precinct had been successful, with twelve new officers assigned recently and twelve more coming. He attributed this principally to the explosive population growth in Downtown Brooklyn, with many new high rise apartment buildings completed and many more under construction or planned. Crime in the precinct has, he said, remained low. There have been several burglaries lately, in areas outside Brooklyn Heights. In each case the burglar entered through an unlocked door or window, and he urged people to keep these secured. He said the only type of crime that has increased steadily is fraud, principally through identity theft involving bank or credit cards.
D.I. Centa said there is a substantial police presence in Brooklyn Bridge Park this summer. His “summer detail request” was met; as a consequence there will be 24 officers in the Park, with overtime on weekends. On Sundays, when there are often as many as 65,000 visitors in the Park, there will be thirty to forty officers present. The officers will be mobile, with bikes, scooters, and Smart Cars. Deployment will be concentrated on Pier 2.
Regarding Pier 2, D.I. Centa said he had taken the initiative to clear it before it became crowded on two occasions, because of indications that fighting was planned there. Asked how he obtained this intelligence, he said that he “didn’t want to give away trade secrets”, but allowed that one closure was caused by a Facebook posting. He said he is prepared to close the pier again under similar circumstances. He also kept Pier 2 closed for a day following closure because of a fight involving sticks and bottles, saying he was concerned that those involved might return to try to finish things off.
Asked if he was aware of what happens on Joralemon Street after pier closings, D.I. Centa said yes. He said police would regulate traffic at these times, and might divert some of it to Atlantic Avenue. Brooklyn Heights Association Executive Director Peter Bray said there had been incidents along Joralemon between Court and Furman streets, at times unrelated to pier closings, in which residents had been jostled and sometimes forced off sidewalks. He said the character of the affected blocks had been changed. Heights resident Jeffrey Smith described the situation as a “Heights-wide emergency”; Gothamist quotes him as having said, after the meeting, that he would get in his car, go Upstate, buy a couple of cases of shotguns, and hand them out.
Other issues affecting Brooklyn Heights were raised at the meeting. One resident complained of government tagged vehicles occupying “No Parking” spaces around Clinton and Joralemon streets. Another made an emotional plea to stop allowing people attending Sunday services at Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral to park their cars on bike lanes, as this forces bike riders into traffic. D.I. Centa said this is a “courtesy” afforded to religious institutions throughout the city, and that he would not change it. The question of resident parking permits was raised, but it was pointed out that this is a State issue, not an NYPD one.
Those who wish to participate in the NYPD’s Operation ID, in which valuable portable electronic devices are registered and may be engraved with an identification number, were asked to call Officer Diana Torres at 929-371-4503.