Crime down 10 percent in 62: Bensonhurst precinct celebrates new low in crime

In a milestone achievement, 2018 was the safest year in the 62nd Precinct since the NYPD began keeping records, according to the precinct’s commanding officer.

Crime dropped 10.58 percent between 2017 and 2018, as of Dec. 30 of last year, according to the NYPD’s year-end CompStat report. Citywide, crime was down 1.38 percent, as of Dec. 30, between 2017 and 2018.

The precinct was fifth in the city for 2018 in terms of crime reduction.

The 62nd Precinct’s commanding officer, Capt. Anthony Longobardi, cited the launch of the NYPD’s Neighborhood Coordination Officers program, combined with strong local support (“We have a very, very supportive community and that cooperation is instrumental in crime reduction”) and good, old-fashioned hard work (“The men and women of the 62 are some of the hardest working police officers I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with”), as major factors in the precinct’s success.

Longobardi, who has led the precinct — which covers Bensonhurst, Bath Beach and Gravesend — since September, 2017, told this paper in a station house interview that the NCO program, in particular, had been a game-changer.

The NCO program, which has now been rolled out citywide, is a 21st century iteration of community policing, in which dedicated sector officers get to know residents and businesspeople, make their own hours to accommodate specific needs and cope with issues, and organize quarterly meetings of those who live and work within the sector.

“It lets the cops take ownership and relinquishes micromanaging,” Longobardi explained, stressing that cops chosen for the program, which debuted last April in the precinct, were all “crime-fighters,” who have the flexibility to arrange their schedules to “target conditions within the sector,” ranging from illegal massage parlors to bars where illegal activities including underage drinking, drug sales and fighting have occurred.

These officers, added Longobardi, also tackle quality-of-life issues, a strategy that often intersects with combating crime.

“We’re responsive to community complaints,” he said, aiding in the precinct’s “success at fostering a safer atmosphere” in the neighborhoods it encompasses. “And, as long as I’m here, that’s going to continue.”

Overall, crime decreased in 2018 in the precinct in five of the seven categories, known as index crimes, tracked through CompStat. Robbery is down 28.3 percent year over year, with 119 in 2018 compared to 166 the prior year, for the lowest number since 2009. Felonious assault is also significantly down: There were 147 in 2018, compared to 185 the year before, for a decline of 20.5 percent, and the lowest number of them since 2011.

Also reduced were incidents of grand larceny auto (GLA) — down 13 percent year over year, with 67 in 2018 compared to 77 in 2017;  burglary — down 10.6 percent, with 178 in 2018 compared to 199 the year before; and grand larceny — down two percent, with 482 in 2018 compared to 492 a year earlier.

According to Longobardi, the reduction in assaults is attributable to the precinct’s efforts to zero in on people who were likely to commit them. “We targeted offenders and households with a propensity for violence,” he told this paper. To that end, he went on, the precinct had “increased home visits about 30 percent,” with officers making approximately 630 more than the prior year. “It had a direct impact, “ he stressed.

The reduction in property crimes also reflects the precinct’s approach, Longobardi said, with efforts by the precinct’s anti-crime team, who, he said had nabbed several individuals believed to be responsible for burglaries in the area.

“We targeted recidivists,” he told this paper. He also said the precinct didn’t just focus on making arrests. Rather, Longobardi said, efforts were made after the arrest to enhance cases at trial included tracking down witnesses and video that could be used in making charges stick.

Low burglary and robbery numbers, he said, reflect that fact that, “A lot of the people we targeted are sitting in jail right now.”

In addition, Longobardi cited a plan put in place in advance of the holiday season at Ceasar’s Bay and along 86th Street that helped significantly decrease shoplifting and thefts from cars in those two heavily trafficked areas. In 2017, there were 14 shoplifting incidents and three auto break-ins, Longobardi said. In 2018, those numbers had been decreased to five and one, respectively.

“That was done by having officers in front of stores during shopping hours,” he explained.

Another plan developed at the precinct zeroed in on the bike path, where, said Longobardi, there had been a number of assaults and robberies in 2017. “This summer,” he went on, “We didn’t take one.”

Also down in the 62nd Precinct are shooting incidents and victims; there was one of each in 2018, where there had been two of each the year before, representing “the lowest amount of shootings in the precinct since 2002,” said Longobardi. What did go up, he added, were gun arrests, also thanks to the efforts of the precinct’s anti-crime team.

In two areas, there were increases — murders were up from one to two, year over year, and rapes rose from 14 to 19, from 2017 to 2018.

Longobardi, while clearly relishing the success of the precinct, declined to take all the credit, stressing that, in his efforts, he had been “pretty much continuing on the trajectory…created” by his predecessors, Capt. Anthony Sanseverino and Insp. William Taylor. “I’m sure they would say the same about” the commanding officers that preceded them, he added. “I don’t think any precinct commander would be where they are without the help of their predecessor.”

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