Brooklyn Heights

Hit and run death a stark reminder of new 25 mph speed limit

November 19, 2014 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
At this month's 84th precinct community council meeting, Captain Sergio Centa (left) and council president Leslie Lewis (right) honored officer Joseph Swicicki (center with one-year-old son Hunter and wife Corinne) for removing an illegal handgun from the streets. Eagle photo by Rob Abruzzese
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A pedestrian was struck and killed in a hit-and-run by a vehicle on Flatbush Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn on Monday night. The following evening, at an 84th precinct community council meeting, Captain Sergio Centa spoke about the tragic news, reminding everyone of the city’s new 25 m.p.h. speed limit.

“It was dark, raining, I’m not sure if speed was a factor, but I’m sure you’ve heard about the mayor’s Vision Zero plan,” Centa said. “That is a goal to have zero pedestrian fatalities. Some of the things the mayor has tasked the police department with [are] enforcement, especially speed enforcement.”

Centa reported that the 84th precinct has already given out 127 summonses for speeding in 2014. He noted that while the number might sound small, it represents nearly a 100 percent increase from 2013.

Centa added that the number of speed summonses would continue to increase. The 84th precinct currently has 12 officers who are using two speed guns and are trained in speed enforcement, and is sending more to become Lidar (laser radar) qualified. There are no speed cameras within the 84th precinct.

On Nov. 7, all city streets — other than those on which a maximum speed limit is posted — became 25 m.p.h. zones. The 84th precinct did not immediately enforce the law, but rather waited a week while distributing flyers and informing the public of the new rules. But going forward, police in the area are actively enforcing the new speed limit. Without revealing all of the spots cops would be patrolling, Centa said that trouble areas including Tillary Street, Flatbush Avenue and Atlantic Avenue will be locations of primary focus.

“Drive 25. It’ll save lives and keep you from getting summonses,” said Centa.

Cops will also continue to crack down on failure to yield to pedestrians, red lights, speed enforcement, disobeying traffic signs, cellphones and texting. Red lights have been a particularly big target with 754 summonses already handed out this year — a 78 percent increase from a year ago.



At Tuesday’s meeting, Officer Joseph Swicicki was named Cop of the Month by the community council. Swicicki received citations from Councilmember Steve Levin and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams for an arrest that got an illegal handgun off the streets back in October. This marks the second time Swicicki has been recognized as Cop of the Month.

Around 4 p.m. in the middle of October, Swicicki and his anti-crime team noticed a suspicious vehicle surrounded by known gang members from South Brooklyn around Livingston and Nevins streets. When officers approached the vehicle and began asking questions, an individual abandoned the car and ran from the police. Swicicki chased the suspect down Flatbush Avenue to DeKalb, where he was able to apprehend him. Afterward, a loaded .40-caliber handgun was found during a search of the car.

“This is only my third council meeting and every Cop of the Month has been for a gun arrest,” Centa said. “It was a great job, not only by him, but by the other members of his team. There was a big crowd there. People started asking questions. They did a good search of that car and found a loaded gun under the seat.

“There is a case going on in Brooklyn south; I can’t get into it, but that was great police work. Officer Swicicki and his guys did a great job.”



Captain Centa was happy to announce that there was not much crime to report on. Overall, crimes are down 15 percent in the 84th precinct over the last month and 2 percent over the past year to date. Crime has decreased in every major category except for burglaries.

Burglaries were only up two incidents over the past four weeks compared to the same time span one year ago. Centa noted that there was one incident last month in a building in DUMBO where four businesses were burglarized all during the same night, which partially accounted for the increase.

Grand larceny auto is also down. Only three cars were stolen over the last two months, and all three were Zipcars stolen by perps using fake identities. No personal cars or motorcycles have been stolen in the area in nearly three months.

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