Following Armed Robberies, 70th Precinct Increases Police Presence & Councilman Mathieu Eugene Vows To Look Into Funding For Cameras

Following Armed Robberies, 70th Precinct Increases Police Presence & Councilman Mathieu Eugene Vows To Look Into Funding For Cameras
Lea police meeting DiBlasio

Dozens of neighbors, including business owners and civic leaders, gathered at Lea (1022 Cortelyou Road) yesterday afternoon to urge the 70th Precinct for a greater police presence in the area following the armed robberies at Mimi’s Hummus, Ox Cart Tavern and a Church Avenue deli. Many members at yesterday’s heavily attended meeting, organized by the Flatbush Development Corporation, also told Councilman Mathieu Eugene that they’d like him to allocate funding for additional police cameras along Cortelyou – which the legislator vowed to look into.

Lea police meeting Eugene

“It’s very important we address the criminal activity happening in this neighborhood,” Flatbush Development Corporation Executive Director Robin Redmond said at yesterday’s gathering, which was also attended by 70th Precinct Community Council President Ed Powell, Community Board 14 District Manager Shawn Campbell and Church Avenue BID Executive Director Lauren Elvers Collins, among other community leaders. “… We’re heading into the holiday season – people are going to be carrying more cash; businesses will have more cash – we need to address this problem head on.”

Lea police meeting Robin from FDC

Avi Shuker, who owns Mimi’s Hummus, as well as Lea and The Castello Plan with Ben Heemskerk, echoed this, saying that, “two weeks ago we had a really scary incident – our employees are shaken… We are asking for additional police cameras and police presence.”

Deputy Inspector Richard DiBlasio, the commanding officer of the 70th Precinct, told neighbors that they have increased patrols along Cortelyou in light of the armed robberies and said that there will be more police officers allocated to the area’s commercial hubs during the holiday season. However, he also stressed that crime is down in the area.

“Are there a couple robberies going on? Yes. Are there concerns with the precinct? Yes. But your crime is down 9 percent,” DiBlasio said, adding that robberies have dropped 15 percent year to date.

Several of the key points made during yesterday’s meeting include:

  • There is no connection with the recent robbery at a T-Mobile store on Flatbush Avenue and the armed robberies at Mimi’s, Ox Cart Tavern and the Church Avenue deli, DiBlasio said. Police are, however, investigating if there’s a connection between the robberies on Cortelyou, Church, and Newkirk. He added that “there’s nothing we can say right now about it being gang related,” in reference to the series of armed robberies.
  • The commanding officer said it was “misinformation” that it took 7 to 10 minutes for the police to arrive when Ox Cart was robbed, though Chef David Pitula told us otherwise. DiBlasio said it “took less than two minutes.”
  • “Video is key to assisting the police department capturing anyone who commits a crime,” DiBlasio said and asked that businesses, and homeowners as well, install high definition security cameras on their property. He noted that Mimi’s Hummus and the Church Avenue deli had cameras, but Ox Cart did not. Ox Cart has said they plan to install more security in the restaurant.
  • If you find yourself in a scary situation, such as an armed robbery, you can call 911 but don’t have to talk to them for them to track your location. “Wherever you call from, the location comes up – landline or cell phone,” DiBlasio said.
  • In addition to encouraging Councilman Eugene for additional police cameras, neighbors said they are concerned about the lack of lighting in parts of the district – including, for example, around Beverley Road. “I will use my position and resources to make sure we have a safer community,” Eugene said. “If you have a need in the community, and you say, ‘Councilman, we need more lights, I’m happy to see how to provide you with those lights.'”

Heemskerk ended the meeting on an upbeat note, saying, “if anything positive comes out of this, it’s we’re all sitting here together, brainstorming how to be a better community.”

“We should plan to meet one more time and maybe create a longterm plan and not let this go,” Heemskerk continued.

DiBlasio added that everyone is welcome to attend the next 70th Precinct meeting, which will be next Wednesday, November 19 at 7:30pm at 175 Lawrence Avenue.

“This is not your fault, this is not our fault – it’s the bad person’s fault,” DiBlasio said of the crimes that have drawn major concern in the neighborhood. “But there are things we can do to better protect ourselves… I guarantee we are going after these bad guys.”


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