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Boerum Hill crime down — but not out

The Brooklyn Paper

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has declared the bad old days officially over in fast-changing South Brooklyn — but, like Faulkner said, the mayhem of the past isn’t dead. In fact, it’s not even past.

At a ceremony last month, Kelly presented the 76th Precinct with an award for a major drop in recorded crime. But even as police celebrate the record-low crime rate in Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Red Hook and parts of Boerum Hill, some foul play (really foul, in some cases) continues to plague the area.

In July, a resident of Boerum Hill sounded the alarm after finding human feces on his front stoop. “I just spent my morning cleaning poop off of my stoop,” wrote the anonymous victim in an e-mail to the local real-estate Web sites, Curbed and Brownstoner. Just a few weeks after the appearance of the stoop pooper, a rash of burglaries had neighbors reminding each other to lock their front gates and replace burnt-out lamplights.

A fatal shooting in the pre-dawn hours of last Sunday had one Boerum Hill family contemplating a move.

“We woke up at 3 in the morning to pop-pop-pop of bullets, sirens and helicopters,” said Katie Green, a Hoyt Street resident. “My son was petrified.”

The gunshots that woke Green and her family on Aug. 11 killed one neighborhood man, 30-year-old Treice Sharpe. The murder is still under investigation by police, but it comes as a tragic reminder of the dangers that remain within the neighborhood of million-dollar brownstones and towering housing projects.

Green said that she feels like a “line” divides affluent parts of the neighborhood from poorer areas where drug-dealing and violence are common. Indeed, the killing, which happened a few blocks from her Hoyt Street home near Gowanus Houses, reminded her of that border’s permeability.

“My husband said, ‘Are we really going to raise two children a block away from where there were gunshots,’ ” she said.

So far this year in the 76th Precinct, there have been five rapes, 67 robberies, 43 assaults, 46 burglaries and 127 robberies of more than $1,000 — 20 percent less total crime than over the same period last year and a whopping 68 percent less crime than there was over that period in 1993.

Leslie Lewis, a police liaison for Borough Hall said crime rates would continue to drop, but admitted that the good numbers can’t change another important reality: how people perceive their safety.

“Perception and the reality are different things,” he said.

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