Crime rates in the Fifth Police Precinct are declining, Inspector Jim Bartscherer told more than 20 residents from the area, which encompasses Elmont, Franklin Square, Malverne, West Hempstead, Valley Stream and East Rockaway, at a community forum on Jan. 25.
Bartscherer shared a PowerPoint presentation that showed the precinct’s reported crime rates from Dec. 18 to Jan. 15, comparing it with the precinct’s five-year average for each crime. The graphic demonstrated that murder and sex offense crimes remained at zero for the 28-day period, and robberies, burglaries and grand larceny rates were lower for the 28-day period than the five-year average. The statistics that were higher were felony assaults, at 20 percent higher than the five-year average, and stolen vehicle reports, at 57.1 percent higher.
In Valley Stream, robberies and grand larcenies were also down from 2016 to 2017. Assaults, felony assaults and domestic burglaries increased over the year, however.
Most of the assaults, Bartscherer said, arose from domestic disputes. He also said that residents could prevent car thefts and stealing from vehicles. “One of the things you can do to reduce larcenies is to keep your door locked,” he said, adding that many of the larcenies from cars occur because people are walking around the neighborhood trying to open car door handles.
Bartscherer also said that he had worried that crime would increase with the addition of the Green Acres Commons in 2016, so he deployed extra police officers to the area during the holiday season. Once the shopping season ended, Bartscherer determined that crime was 26 percent lower than in the previous shopping year.
He attributed the decrease in crime to a greater review of the police department’s resources. He said that every 28 days he has to meet with the police commissioner, the board of trustees, the district attorney’s office and members of the police department’s executive staff. “We come up with a strategy for the next 28-day period to say these are the resources we’re going to put into that area,” Bartscherer said, “these are what we’re going to concentrate on and see if we can drive down that crime by either capturing the person or reducing the opportunity for the crime to take place.”
The precinct also utilizes community representatives who meet regularly with Bartscherer to discuss problems. There are also problem-oriented police officers, who monitor long-term issues such as traffic patterns.
Nassau County Legislator C. William Gaylor III said at the forum that he was impressed by Bartscherer’s efforts. “In the last few years I’ve been here, the Inspector has brought the crime levels down in our community, the numbers show that,” Gaylor said.
Franklin Square resident Hesham Khafaga agreed. “It’s very enlightening,” he said. “The statistics show there’s a lot of improvement in the community.”
Residents than had the opportunity to express their concerns about crime in the area, with many bringing up traffic violations. “The drivers really violate the law, they make illegal turns, they make U-turns,” Donald Miserandino, a Valley Stream resident, said about parents driving their children to and from the Wheeler Avenue School.
Chrissie O’Toole, another Valley Stream resident, said the same problem also exists at Memorial Junior High School and Central High School. “If you sit on Linden [Road] and face Memorial, you will see them...blowing past the stop signs,” she said. “If you could just give us a couple of days of solid enforcement, I guarantee you it would stop because they’re very cocky and arrogant.”
Traffic problems were also brought up on Dutch Broadway in Elmont and on Franklin Avenue in Franklin Square. “We are all seeing VTL [vehicle and traffic law] violations day in and day out,” Bartscherer said. “The schools have been on top of it, and we have been meeting with them.”
In Lakeview, H. Scotty Coades said, people rent out houses in the spring and summer to throw loud parties. “That’s something we can’t tolerate in our communities,” Coades said.
The Fifth Precinct monitors social media for posts about house parties in the area, according to Bartscherer. “Most of those parties are stopped before they even happen,” he said. “When they do happen, we do strict enforcement and we’ve been locking up a lot of people on those social host laws.”
Coades, who also serves as a community representative for Lakeview, said she was pleased with the presentation. “It was awesome,” she told the Herald. “It was very informative.”
Bartscherer ended his presentation by urging people to call 9-1-1 if they see something suspicious. “We don’t consider it a problem, we’re here to serve you, we’re here to keep the community safe,” he said. “So if you see something that is of concern to you, call 9 -1-1, we’ll respond."