Common Sense: Safe streets

I suspect Police Commissioner Bratton, of whom I am a fan, probably regrets defending the recent large increase in shootings by stating that shootings are overall down for the year. I think most everyone understands that the horrible weather during the first three months of 2014 was the single biggest contributing factor to the reduction in crime. And regardless of the weather and any comparison, 20-plus shootings in a weekend cannot be softened or defended.

New Yorkers are once again becoming scared, scared that they will be killed or injured in a violent robbery or even a random shooting. And the media coverage of the poor child in Coney Island who was shot in the leg from a stray bullet only makes things worse.

Soon, if they have not already, many New Yorkers will question the wisdom of essentially eliminating “Stop, Question and Frisk” as well as other tactical changes.

In fact, on Staten Island, the possibility that the police Island Task Force would be ended resulted in such an outcry from elected officials that the commissioner assured the community that on Staten Island, unlike other boroughs, he would leave it in place. I am not certain why it works on Staten Island, but nowhere else.

Despite being undermanned, I think the city remains a generally safe place due to the efforts of the NYPD. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that with the new priorities set by the mayor that the hundreds of millions necessary to hire 1,000 more police officers will ever come about. And with the change in certain policing policies, we may first need to learn from our mistakes before we go back to the proven successful strategies.

Finally, Brooklyn’s new district attorney — who ran on a platform that included a greater level of empathy for all of Brooklyn’s many diverse communities — certainly appreciates that safe streets are his most important responsibility. He will need to take a critical view of changes to conclude objectively what works without regard to political correctness.

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The Kings County Conservative Party will be honoring Steve Cassidy, the head of the NYC Uniformed Firefighters Association, at its annual American Heritage Dinner to be held on Wednesday, July 30 at the El Caribe.

Steve, the longtime head of the our city’s fire union, has earned a reputation of fighting with City Hall to keep fire resources in our community during what had been an annual ritual of calling for the closing of firehouses during the Bloomberg years. Invariably, as part of the budget negotiations and after rallies and political threats, the closures would be reversed.

The de Blasio administration deserves credit for not employing this tactic in this year’s budget.

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Congressmember Grimm and State Senator Golden (for whom I work as chief of staff) have written the mayor requesting a meeting of appropriate city agencies concerning illegal conversions in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights.

In part the letter reads, “The typical conversion transforms a private home once housing one or two families and converts it into a virtual SRO with occupancy several times what is legally permissible.”

As preparation for the meeting, the offices are putting together an ad hoc task force to include all elected officials and any community leaders or residents wishing to participate.

Illegal conversions are nothing new in the city. Recently, there appears to be a significant increase in Dyker and Bay Ridge. The ability of the Buildings Department and Fire Department is often hampered by an inability to gain access even after complaints have been filed.

Community vigilance in reporting illegal conversions, and strong intervention by agencies and elected officials, as well as possibly new local laws, are necessary if we are to get ahead of this troubling development.

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