South Brooklyn police vow crackdown on reckless drivers
NYPD takes action in wake of alarming car crash stats
In response to alarm bells raised by lawmakers and community leaders over the high number of car crashes taking place on the streets of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, NYPD will be assigning more cops to crack down on reckless drivers in the area, officials confirmed this week.
“You spoke. We listened,” wrote Capt. Robert Conwell, commanding officer of the 68th Precinct, on the precinct’s Twitter page. The police officers will be on the lookout for speed demon motorists and people who drive carelessly on local streets. The 68th Precinct covers Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights.
“It will save lives,” Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann told the Brooklyn Eagle on Wednesday.
Beckmann, who met with Conwell in her office on Tuesday, said the officers will be taking a close look at areas in the precinct, particularly in Dyker Heights, that have been problem locations.
The announcement came four days after Councilmember Justin Brannan (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-parts of Bensonhurst), wrote a letter to Police Commissioner James O’Neill requesting additional traffic enforcement officers for the 68th and 62nd Precincts. The latter precinct covers Bensonhurst and Bath Beach.
“You would laugh, or perhaps cry, at just how many traffic lights, speed bumps, stop signs, slow zones and flashing beacons I’ve personally requested around the neighborhood over the past decade. In order to make sure these accidents stop happening, you need more enforcement because the truth is, all the stop signs, flashing lights and traffic rules in the world just do not matter without enforcement,” Brannan wrote in his Jan. 18 letter.
Brannan said he was pleased and relieved when he was informed by the NYPD of the crackdown.
“Captain Conwell and I have a great working relationship because we both know keeping the neighborhood safe is a partnership. It’s about all of us working together — the police, the politicians and the residents — to identify where we can do better and how we can make things safer. I thank Captain Conwell and the men and women of the 68th Precinct for answering the community’s call to crack down on reckless driving,” Brannan told the Eagle in an email.
There were 3,312 car crashes in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018, according to Brannan. That’s 400 more than the average number of collisions in other Brooklyn neighborhoods during that same time period.
Seventeen crashes took place on one day alone: Jan. 14, 2019, police said. That number raised a lot of eyebrows in the community and led to calls for action.
Beckmann unearthed another shocking statistic. In 2018, 569 motorists were ticketed for driving without a license.
While the community board is applauding the crackdown, Beckmann said enforcement is only part of the solution. Education and raising public awareness of the importance of safe driving are also keys, she added.
“We will continue our work with the Street Safety Subcommittee,” she said, referring to a subcommittee Board Chairperson Doris Cruz recently formed to look at the issue.
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