Saturday, January 06, 2007

Is crime going up or down in Northern Manhattan?

Murder was in the news in 2006 in Washington Heights & Inwood. There was the tragic killing of 81 year-old Jacob Gerstle during a robbery in the lobby of his building on 186th St.; the death of Leslie Bloom on Broadway in Inwood from random gunfire; and the stabbing murder of Janet Fernandez by her teenage step-son in their apartment on 177th St. No fewer than 20 lives were lost to violence in 2006 in our community’s two police precincts—a rise of 25% over 2005.

But the statistics tell a mixed story. Overall crime in the 33rd and 34th precincts actually fell this past year by 5.6%, thanks largely to a substantial drop in grand larceny. And even the murder rate is down dramatically when compared to its terrifying peak of 119 killings in 1991. The officers of our local precincts have worked heroically to achieve these results, and they continue to win praise for their effectiveness and professionalism.

This success is all the more amazing when considering the dramatic drop in police resources Washington Heights-Inwood has experienced. Ten years ago each of our two precincts was staffed by 250 officers. Today there are just 165 officers in the 34th and 140 in the in 33rd. In part this is due to a city-wide shrinking of the force. And a precipitous drop in the salary for new officers—now a just $25,100—has exacerbated this situation, creating a growing stream of talent leaving for suburban departments with higher pay and less stressful conditions.

But Washington Heights-Inwood has lost significantly more than its fair share of police resources, and worrying trends in our local crime statistics make this impossible to ignore. City-wide, the NYPD employs one officer for every 219 residents. But in our densely populated neighborhood the average is now an astonishingly low one per 688 residents. The steady drop in local crime in past years has no doubt justified a draw-down in resources. But the disturbing rise in murders, coupled with an apparent resurgence in the drug trade and gang activity, means the time to increase staff at our local precincts is now. And we can easily afford it: the City’s budget surplus is expected to reach nearly $4 billion this year.

Our community has shown that we get results when we speak out on public safety. When Mayor Bloomberg faced a barrage of complaints from hundreds of local residents in a town hall meeting here in the fall of 2004, there was an immediate, visible increase in the number of officers on the streets—but unfortunately the move proved only temporary.

We need to start the new year with a campaign of letters to Mayor Bloomberg (c/o City Hall, NY, NY 10007) to demand a PERMANENT increase in officers for Washington Heights-Inwood. This may be the only way to assure that in 2007 there will be far fewer news reports of lives lost in our streets.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like anything else, we can’t just keep depending on the “I work and pay taxes” defense for everything we DON’T do in our “community”.
Everyone wants politicians and “leaders” to handle everything for them by waving their magic wand, then become angry when things just don’t seem to work out the way they should.
I witnessed my father work his life away, dying on the very year he was forced to retire, his tax dollars and what little savings he scratched, earned him NOTHING, not even peace of mind.
If people in this neighborhood think they are perfectly safe, they either know something I don’t or they are simply fooling themselves, big time.
Too many people think that being active requires picketing or some distasteful action that will take up too much from their valuable time, making oodles of money at their thankless, paycheck-to-paycheck drudgery. Has no one learned anything from history?
The old timers that lived in this city built up political clubs, they got what they needed and at times what they wanted. Today’s people are so despondent about everything, they would rather shuffle off to some thankless job, day in-day out, and complain profusely about “how dirty politics are” (as if anything wielded by people were clean) than build a powerbase for themselves!
Is there really any wonder why we are being ignored by our mayor? Simple, it’s about mind over matter, he doesn’t mind and we don’t matter. Seriously, who do you think all the new gentrification is for, us? There are millions of new comers across the nation and the globe that would gladly replace everyone of us in a heartbeat (I’m pretty sure that’s the notion) and if you just can’t lay strong roots in your own backyard, don’t complain when you get blown away to some remote corner of the map and STILL have no say!

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a general comment about the blog. I am REALLY excited to find it. (I came here from the site that links to blogs based on the subway stop they're closest to.) I hope you keep it going and I really appreciate the content. Maybe if possible, you also could publish some of it in a newspaper, if there is a paper-based newspaper for upper Manhattan? Thank you again!

11:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is in fact a local newspaper "Manhattan times", which is a bilingual paper that represents the neighborhood, unfortunately, it is still pretty much a sparse little paper you find laying around bank lobby's, etc.(not exactly our answer to The Village Voice).
If you like, the neighborhood has a site: You will find much information there.

1:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could someone post a link to the site that lists blogs in relation to the closest subway stops?

Also, my husband and I would like to move with our baby up to Inwood. Could someone tell me what it's like to have a child up there, ie, what kinds of things you do, say, on an average weekday?


11:15 AM  
Blogger Mark D. Levine said...

The subway map blog is:

There are TONS of families in Inwood, and the number is growing. You should check out the Yahoo group "Inwood Community":

also be sure to check out "washington heights & inwood online" at

- Mark

10:12 PM  
Blogger Angelo Ortiz said...

The feeling on the street? Crime is going up...

3:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is an ILLUSION that crime has been reduced in Washington Height and Inwood.

The recent rash of "white t-shirt" muggings -- young Hispanics who all wear white, as a means of avoiding exact description to the police -- in the Park Terrace area also reveals that, the 34th Precinct has been reluctant at best when victims wish to file an INCIDENT REPORT.

There have also been gang fights in the above area, with police allowing gang members to run into the park to hide without pursuit (by the police -- who remained in their cars, then drove away).

The precinct has been discouraging and dissuading along such lines. This, according to victims themselves.

There's also a lot of Color and Symbol Code, if you will -- Red T-shirt and a baseball bat can sometimes mean that a fight with a rivaling group is just around the bend.

Have any of you ever seen and heard the riff-Raff and disturbance, that goes on night after night in the Triangle that is Hillside Ave-Bogardus Pl-and Ellwood St? Especially on lower (the most Southerly point of) Hillside Avenue.

It's digusting, and you can go an entire night without seeing a single cruiser go by. To be fair, some of the police in patrol cars do actually check out a situation, but it would appear that far too many do not.

Something must be done, or this once lovely neighborhood will be flushed down the toilet yet again, as it was in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Please try and assist as best as you can, whether resident, passerby, the police, or City Council. A strong coalition of well-connected and educated residents has formed, and shall likely bring this rather large matter to the media -- namely New York 1, as well as print media which is read by locals and prospective new residents -- for exposure and with an aim for remedy, should the problems and elements persist and remain not only unaddressed, but a literal menace to society. Thank you.

8:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Such filth.

January 14, 2008 -- A murderous gang turf war has erupted in Manhattan's city high schools - even spilling out in the tony streets of Gramercy Park and Chelsea, The Post has learned.
One innocent youth has been murdered and a dozen others injured in more than half a dozen skirmishes linked to a feud between DOMINICAN DON'T PLAY , or DDP, and the Trinitarios, two groups of largely second-generation Dominican teens, law-enforcement sources said.
"Both of these gangs are recruiting at schools all over New York and in New Jersey," one gang investigator said.
"DOMINICAN DON'T PLAY are considered the fastest-growing gang in New York and renowned for using machetes and violence to make a statement."
In the past three months, the NYPD has investigated confrontations between the two groups in and around Gramercy Park, Chelsea, Harlem, the Morris Heights section of The Bronx and, most frequently, in Washington Heights.
The carnage includes one youth shot and killed, three shot and wounded and at least nine others stabbed or slashed, officials said.
Margie Feinberg, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, said agency officials are working to stem the violence.
"In cases where there are incidents outside the school, we work collaboratively with local businesses and the local police precinct," she said.
The most recent bloodshed occurred Jan. 7 at 9:30 a.m. at West 196th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue, in the shadows of George Washington HS. The streets near their campus have emerged as a gang battleground, sources say.
Several suspected DDP members approached two students, ages 16 and 15, sources said.
The group asked the pair whether they were Trinitarios, and suspected DDP member Alberny Delacruz, 17, stabbed them both, causing minor injuries, sources said. Delacruz was charged with assault.
The gang battles had turned deadly on Oct. 19, when bystander José Batista, 15, was shot dead outside his apartment building on West 134th Street, which was believed to house gang members.
The culprits, suspected DDP members, also wounded an innocent 16-year-old boy.
Street-gang crime soared 37 percent over the past two years - to 713 incidents, from 520 - according to police statistics.

Dominicans Don't Play (DDP) is a New York based street gang comprised of Latino youths whose heritage is traced to the Dominican Republic. They are largely concentrated in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan parts of Queens, The Bronx and Brooklyn[1] . More recently the gang has expanded to New Jersey [2] [3] , Florida, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Atlanta. Law enforcement identifies members through the wearing of black, blue, white and red beads [4] - which is problematic given these are also the colors of the flag of the Dominican Republic and numerous other countries. Throughout the group's relatively short history as a gang they have been involved in numerous violent altercations in New York [5] , New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Florida. In 2004 several people associated with DDP were arrested in connection with the fatal stabbing of a River Edge, New Jersey man after the North Hudson Dominican Day Parade in August 2003. They have had an ongoing feud with other area gangs, including the sets affiliated with the United Blood Nation and the Trinitarios, a group comprised also of Dominican youths. [6] . A scuffle between DDP and the Bloods at Pelham Prep High School in the Bronx on March 11, 2005 resulted in the stabbing of two teenage boys.[1] On April 13, 2005 fifteen year old Alex Ramirez, a member of the DDP off-shoot BONZ - or "Beat On Niggaz", was charged with second-degree murder after witnesses said he slashed 16-year-old Marviel Martinez (rival gang member trinitario) in the neck and then thrust the blade deep in the teen's back Tuesday morning at the Jerome Ave. station in 183st.[2] There was a recent arrest of three members of the DDP by the FBI. On January 01, 2007, 3 member of the gang DDP were arrested in New York. They were wanted for multiple charges relating to a shooting incident at a restaurant in which the three subjects fired several rounds killing one person and critically injuring three. They were arrested in NY with a .38 caliber hand gun. [7] . There was also a large brawl in Manhattan including Union Square

12:41 PM  

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