Our 24th Precinct’s interim Community Officer, William Pla, spoke about the following:
• recent burglary arrests have led to a decrease in incidents
• police are seeing a mix of fault in vehicle incidents: some resulting from pedestrians (on cellphones or jaywalking) walking in front of on-coming cars, others from driver error such as the taxi incident that tragically killed nine-year-old Cooper Stock on West End Avenue at W. 97th St.
• the city is addressing safety concerns on the W. 96th St. corridor by way of several actions: lengthening lights at W. 96th Street, adding crossing guards at PS 75, installing red light cameras at W. 96th St. from Amsterdam to West End Avenues, and monitoring speed at W. 96th St. and Broadway where two officers are currently assigned from 7 am to 7 pm.
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance made these key points:
• throughout the 1980s, there were about 500 homicides annually
• this rate decreased to 70 in Vance’s first year in office and was down to 40 last year thanks to community engagement as well as law enforcement
• gang and gun violence are a priority at the DA’s office; 14 gangs have been obliterated so far
• his office is focusing on prevention by providing alternative outlets for populations most at risk; so far they are serving 3000 kids at seven different sites
• he is supporting a measure to open the Police Athletic League gym in Central Harlem to kids 11 to 18 years old on weekend nights
6th District City Councilperson, Helen Rosenthal, discussed a range of topics, notably about:
• Vision Zero
Mayor Bill de Blasio has launched a plan to work toward zero fatalities or serious injuries due to city traffic and pedestrian flows. Specifically in our area with the recent spate of bad accidents and fatalities, work began in late March on crosswalks at W. 96th and Broadway to overhaul flow of pedestrian traffic. Plans include for allowing pedestrians to cross over W. 96th Street from median to median to reduce crowding on the east and west corners of the intersection. There is legislation in progress named for Cooper Stock that would result in immediate suspension of a driver’s hack license and perhaps revocation if investigation reveals that the driver failed to yield. Helen Rosenthal has recommended to New York State to follow suit with all drivers, not just cab drivers.
• Supports the “Twenty is Plenty” program initiated by advocacy groups, which originated in the U.K.
Although Albany regulates speed limits, “Slow Zones” may be defined and regulated by NYC’s Department of Transportation. Helen Rosenthal is working to establish a maximum city street speed limit of 20 mph and is lobbying for home rule so that the city may proceed.
Highlights of remarks from Manhattan Borough President and neighborhood friend, Gale Brewer:
• Jessica Mates, Gale Brewer’s chief of staff also discussed Vision Zero and efforts to identify trouble spots for traffic and pedestrian safety. Their office has introduced a bill to increase the number of audio pedestrian signals and the pace of their installation.
• Gale Brewer kindly acknowledged the Block Association, with which she’s had a long working relationship from her days as a City Councilperson.
• Gale is particularly supportive of the various age-friendly initiatives throughout the city and singled out David Reich and Bloomingdale Aging in Place of our neighborhood as great examples of how a community can become mindful and supportive of needs of older neighbors.
By Hedy Campbell and Caitlin Hawke