With 20 sexual assaults or attempted sexual assaults, includingone rape, in southwestern Brooklyn since March, it’s no surprisethat female residents of neighborhoods where the attacks took place- including Sunset Park, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace and Bay Ridge- are scared.They have every right to be, despite the fact that patrols havebeen stepped up in the areas where the assaults occurred, anddespite the fact that cops have picked up two different men inconnection with some of the attacks.It seems like the sexual predators who have lurked in the shadowshave become emboldened. No sooner do cops take in one person forquestioning than another groper strikes. And, while many of thewomen have successfully fought off their assailants, the sense ofviolation is pervasive.To a large degree, women in the neighborhoods where the assailantshave struck have become street smart. Community-wide efforts haveled local leaders to organize self-defense classes for women, andneighbors have banded together to offer escort services tounaccompanied women returning home after dark.The sense of empowerment, however, has come at a painfully highcost. No one should ever feel threatened walking in her ownneighborhood, whether from the subway, to a restaurant or just toget a breath of fresh air.We know local police are doing the best they can with limitedresources to track down the predators, protect the public from themand also handle the myriad of other incidents and emergencies thatoccur on a regular basis.It’s helpful that the Brooklyn Special Victims Unit is now involvedin the effort, and that the NYPD and Crime Stoppers have offeredrewards for information that helps get the predators off thestreet.Increased vigilance is crucial in the circumstances; the sooner thepredators are off the streets, the sooner local women will be ableto walk their streets with confidence once again.
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