Western Brooklyn

Bensonhurst Is Plagued By Deactivated Police Call Boxes, Complains Local

A very broken call box. Looks like a car backed up into it. Photo by Hannah Frishberg
A very broken call box. Looks like a car backed up into it. Photo by Hannah Frishberg

Do you find that Bensonhurst has more than its fair share of broken police call boxes? Bean tipster Dennis M. sure does.

According to Dennis, for two decades the now the NYFD has been targeting Bensonhurst by deactivating fire alarm callboxes but not removing them. Are you bothered by the number of broken callboxes in the neighborhood, or do you think the city has done a decent job of maintaining and removing them? Let us know in the comments.

The Fire Department was not immediately available for comment.

It has been 20 years now since the NYFD targeted the then predominantly working class Italian-American communities of Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Gravesend, Howard Beach and others to bear a hugely disproportionate brunt for the deactivation of fire alarm boxes. This was covered extensively in the N.Y. Post at the time. Fully three-fouths of fire alarm boxes in my section of Bensonhurst were deactivated, but never removed, remaining as eyesores throughout the neighborhood. In a classic example of a reverse “broken window” policy, the deactivated alarm boxes were soon covered with graffiti and stuffed with trash. The blight soon expanded to storefronts now covered in graffiti as well where there had been none before, and the once clean commercial avenues are now strewn with litter. Meanwhile, when I visit my old haunts in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope, I find few, if any, deactivated fire alarm boxes. For some reason, all of the alarm boxes I see when driving through Boro Park are active as well. As for Manhattan, well, guess what? I once worked there and still go there frequently and have found exactly one deactivated fire alarm box there over the years. Of course, there would have been an uproar in any of these areas if the deactivation process was carried out proportionately across the city.

Lest we forget, this all started under Mayor Rudy Giuliani, an Italian-American who went out of his way to ban the sale of wine and beer at Italian street festivals, even though rowdy drunken behavior was never a problem at these events, and to stop the fireworks display in Howard Beach. It is clear the NYFD understood in what neighborhoods it would be acceptable to create blight 20 year ago.

Unhappy anniversary, folks!

Comment policy


  1. The city should be responsible for removing the fire alarm boxes since it’s the city that stopped it’s usefulness.Brooklyn used to be nice and clean, now you walk up from 23rd ave.to Bay Parkway with a close pin on your nose because of the merchants nasty smelly food stands and repeated dumping of dirty water from their fish products into the streets, wonder why we have so many rats. Chinese people have invaded the veggie, fruit stands and have loads of nasty restaurants but they shouldn’t be allow to bring their nasty unsanitary ways. very bad Situation on this location.

  2. Rudy Giuliani was a megalomaniac who was obsessed with controlling peoples’ every action. In fact, I think that Bloomberg got most of his stupid ideas from Giuliani.

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