Neighbors came out in full force for last night’s 70th Precinct National Night Out Against Crime, one of thousands of similar events that take place across the country in an attempt to fight crime by fostering tighter bonds between residents and police.
“Tonight’s event is to make sure everyone is aware of agencies and services for the community, to reduce crime and increase transparency — which is accomplished by having officers present to talk with people, and hear about the issues that are going on,” said Deputy Inspector James Palumbo.
“The community gets to see us in a human aspect and on a personal level to bridge the gap of communication between law enforcement and the community,” Palumbo told DPC.
Officers at the event were open to talking with community members. “People ask us about quality of life issues, upcoming community events, and the progress of issues they’ve brought up at community council meetings. Following up is the key, to make sure problems don’t just get displaced to another area,” said Palumbo.
Many community leaders came out for the free event held at the Parade Grounds, including congresswoman Yvette Clark, Deputy Inspector James Palumbo, 70th Precinct Community Council President Ed Powell, Council Member Jumaane Williams, Democratic Committee Member Jacob Gold, as well as a host of other officers and community leaders, including the representatives from Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth’s Thompson’s office. The night’s festivities included free BBQ, live music, a bouncy castle, and more.
To begin the evening, Congressperson Yvette Clark awarded Inspector James R. Palumbo a congressional proclamation, and thanked every 70th precinct officer for their work. “We are grateful for the sacrifices they make each and every day to keep us safe,” said the congresswoman.
Palumbo also took time to speak with DPC about the recently released crime statistics that show a spike in acquaintance rapes. He said that there have been 19 reported rapes this year so far, more than a 100 percent increase, he said. But only one was a stranger rape and two people were arrested for that crime.
Most of the others are acquaintance rapes and domestic cases, said Palumbo, meaning the victims knew their attackers. Those cases are often reported months after the incident occurred. “We encourage those reports — but it’s harder to intervene when its a domestic issue, especially if there’s no history of domestic abuse complaints there.” If an acquaintance rape is reported, the precinct conducts an initial interview, and then a follow up issue with the special victims unit that deals with sex crimes. The precinct also offers victims services like relocation.
Palumbo acknowledged that shooting incidents have picked up over the last two weeks, but said the precinct expects a spike in gunshots during a heat wave. There have been four incidents of shots fired this summer, but overall the reported cases are down compared to last year, with 9 shootings and 18 shooting victims so far this year, Palumbo said. “This is an unheard of low from a precinct that had 30 incidents just five years ago,” Palumbo said.
Palumbo said he was very optimistic about the Neighborhood Coordinating Officer (NCO) program. “We’ve gotten positive responses from community members that were previously against us,” he said. “The NCO program helps make the police and community members more comfortable with each other.” Instead of just calling 311 or 911, they have someone who they know will understand what they’re going through. “An NCO will understand ongoing problems,” he said, “people can build a relationship with police officers and begin to feel more comfortable.”
Many volunteers and organizations came out last night to share their message with the community, and also to share in the fun.
Many thanks to neighbor Nathan Thompson, the 70th Precinct Community Council’s secretary, for contributing photos.