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Ridgeites joining forces to deter drug issues

Community Board 10 and the 68th Precinct are joining forces to combat drug issues that are terrorizing residents living between 72nd and 76th Streets between Third and Sixth Avenues.

Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10, explained at a Police and Public Safety Committee meeting held on April 10 at the district office that she has been receiving complaints from residents about street-level drug dealing and using.

“We are trying to encourage neighbors that instead of complaining about what they see, to do something about it,” she said, adding that he D.A.’s office is aware of and working on the issue. “There have been several arrests, but it’s ongoing to continue to encourage that neighbors report and we coordinate.”

About a dozen residents, as well as Jim Clark (president of the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District), a representative from the District Attorney’s office Narcotics Unit and officers from the 68th Precinct were present at the meeting.

June Johnson has lived on her 76th Street block for over 40 years. She said that her senior citizen neighbors are afraid to go out at night.

“Kids on stoops are smoking pot and won’t go away,” she said, adding that she witnessed a teen break up and snort pills inside a Chinese take-out restaurant on Fifth Avenue in plain sight. “Last week, a teen was checking out basement doors.”

Fran Vella-Marrone, chair of the committee, explained, “Part of the problem is, you need to report these items. If you don’t report, people don’t know what is going on and police can’t look at patterns or anything else.”

One resident of 72nd Street, who wished to remain anonymous, said that the issue has been going on for the past three years.

“It’s embedded in the pavement there. It’s a scary place,” she said of her block. “Down there, the kids have no fear. They are blatant. Everyone is deathly afraid of summer. People are shaking. We need to break this group of kids up.”

Susan B. also lives on 76th Street. She said that drug deals go on at all hours of the day at the fire hydrant in front of her home and when she confronted one thug, she got two flat tires. The Ridgeite contended that she constantly calls 9-1-1, but “no one shows up.”

Police Officer Harry Kirschner of the 68th Precinct said that when 9-1-1 is called, there “must”be a response.

“Jobs go in priority order. We just can’t not respond,” he assured the resident. “People have to call 9-1-1 when you see something because it’s faster. When you call the precinct, they must dispatch the call.”

“The precinct has to decide how to allocate resources and they do that by talking to us, by talking to the community,” Vella-Marrone commented.

State Senator Marty Golden and Councilmember Vincent Gentile have allocated funds to install ARGUS cameras in locations determined by the New York City Police Department. These cameras are able to survey up to a four-block radius and have been effective in other parts of the city. Residents said they would like to learn more about the cameras and will do so at a meeting yet to be determined between CB 10 and the 68th Precinct.

Kirschner suggested that residents install flood lights in front of their homes.

Vella-Marrone concurred. “We have to make the environment less enticing and inviting to them,” she said. “We have to make it uncomfortable.”

Clark noted that all of the merchants along Fifth Avenue have been notified of the issue and are encouraged to install security cameras.

“I want to keep Bay Ridge the way it is, a safe good neighborhood, but I am seeing trouble here,” concluded CB 10 member Sandy Vallas.

To report any type of drug-related issue, or for more information, call the NYC Drug Hotline at 1-888-374-DRUG (3784) or the D.A.’s action center at 718-250-2340.

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