Residents to do their part in watching nabe

June 13, 2013 Helen Klein
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The 68th Precinct is in the middle of forming a citizen’s patrol to augment its eyes and ears, especially in the area of Fifth Avenue in the 70s, where residents have reported an increase in drug-related problems, and which was recently approved to receive three NYPD security cameras.

The patrol – which was suggested by local civic leaders Dr. Husam Rimawi and the Reverend Khader El-Yateem — will support the efforts of the precinct’s officers, similar to the way that auxiliary police officers do, explained Captain Richard di Blasio, the commanding officer of the 68th Precinct during the May meeting of the precinct’s community council.

The members must be at least 18 years old. They will be trained and receive ID cards, di Blasio said. When they go out, they will wear t-shirts identifying themselves as members of the patrol, he said, and they will walk through the area, four or five people together, looking out for potential problems. If they see anything, they will call the information in to the precinct. They will take no action on their own.

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“The idea is not to do any enforcement,” he stressed. “It’s more of an omnipresence. That alone is going to make a difference.

“It’s not that the Police Department can’t do it,” di Blasio went on. “It brings the community together and sends a message to everybody, ‘This is our neighborhood. These are our streets. We care about them.’ It’s sort of like the auxiliary program but they don’t wear uniforms.”

Recently, there has been an increased police presence in the area, di Blasio stressed. “We have had increased coverage up there,” he reported, explaining that that is especially true in the 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. shift. “We’ve always had arrests in the area. [The officers] are walking around and riding around in scooters. They are making a lot of quality of life arrests. The auxiliary officers have been up there.

“We are paying particular attention now because it’s warmer,” di Blasio concluded.

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