Rockaway cops use stop-frisk to stem burglaries
NYPD officers in Far Rockaway, in an effort to combat a sharp and persistent increase in burglaries following superstorm Sandy, kept up the pace of stop-and-frisk activity in the first three months of this year while the rest of the city has seen a decline, officials said Tuesday.
In the first quarter of this year, police in the 101st Precinct, which covers the areas of Far Rockaway, Bayswater and Edgemere, reported 2,431 stops, just 18 fewer than the 2,449 done in the same period in 2012, according to police data provided to Newsday.
By comparison, police precincts citywide recorded a 43 percent drop in stop and frisks in those same periods, according NYPD statistics provided to the City Council. Some precincts saw drops in stops by more than 70 percent.
Police have been keeping up the pace of stops in the Rockaway precinct because of an overall crime increase driven by post-Sandy burglaries involving break-ins by scavengers for copper pipe, contractor tools and other properties, said Deputy Insp. Kevin Maloney of the 101st Precinct.
"The beginning of the year we did see crime increase and driving it were burglaries," Maloney said in a telephone interview. Thieves hit bodegas, gas stations and homes, police noted.
The latest serious-crime statistics through May 12 show that the precinct has seen burglaries increase 86 percent so far this year over the same period in 2012, while crime overall has risen 33.2 percent.
To cope with the burglaries and other crimes, Maloney said officers working on overtime in the first quarter made 738 stops, compared with just 264 in the same period in 2012. In addition, the NYPD moved 30 special impact zone officers into the precinct area to address crime, something that also kept up the pressure.
"I had more cops on overtime out there . . . that kept stop, question and frisk where it was," Maloney explained.
Burglaries exploded in Maloney's precinct after Sandy, rising by more than 250 percent compared with the fall of 2011. As 2013 arrived, the number of burglaries remained high compared with the winter of 2012, increasing 225 percent in February, but have been dropping off at a time when more officers were brought in and police continued to use stop and frisks.
Stop-and-frisk activity is the subject of a federal lawsuit by civil liberties groups that contend the NYPD targets blacks and Hispanics. The police insist the stops are done on the basis of crime reports and reasonable suspicion by officers that a crime has been or is about to be committed.
NYPD stop-and-frisk numbers are regularly provided to the City Council. Data released to Newsday showed that stop-and-frisk activity in all police commands, including precincts, has been steadily declining since it peaked in early 2012. The NYPD reported 99,788 stops in the first quarter of 2013, down 51 percent from the same period in 2012. About 87 percent of those stopped are black and Hispanic, a percentage that has remained the same over the years.
As the year goes on and burglaries seem to drop off in Far Rockaway, stop and frisks have also moderated. So far in the second quarter, officers in the 101st Precinct have reported only 845 stops, compared with 1,483 in 2012, a drop of 43 percent, Maloney said. Similar data for the rest of the city weren't available Tuesday.