Mixed results for 88th robbery squad

Mixed results for 88th robbery squad
Photo by Tom Callan

The beat cop is back!

The 88th Precinct has created a robbery unit to tackle Fort Greene and Clinton Hill’s disturbing 21-percent spike in robberies last year.

Since the unit was deployed two months ago, robberies are down slightly on paper — though criminals appear to be evading the cops by targeting new areas.

Eight people were robbed just last week, and the last month saw 20 robberies, compared to only eight from the same period last year. January’s numbers were lower, but they could be attributed to the cold as much as the new unit.

Police say that this month’s spike is caused by the unit pushing crime into new areas.

“You put police resources in one place and it helps the problem,” said Inspector Terence Tasso, the precinct’s commanding officer. “But the question is: are you combating crime or just displacing it?”

Last year, there were 237 robberies, up from 196 in 2009. Most of the crime occurred on major pedestrian streets south of Fort Greene Park, so Tasso concentrated his 10-person patrol unit on the four streets: DeKalb Avenue, Lafayette Avenue, Fulton Street and Hanson Place. The unit started on Jan. 21, with cops patrolling the area on foot from 3 to 11 pm — prime travel times for school children and commuters.

“The main thing is making sure kids that are dismissed from school make it home safely,” Tasso said. Brooklyn Technical HS is just south of DeKalb Avenue between Fort Greene and S. Elliott places, and The Brooklyn High School for the Arts and the Upper Carroll School are nearby on Dean Street between Third and Fourth avenues.

But the startling number of robberies last week prompted the 88th Precinct to shift many of the cops to the north and the east.

Starting on Monday, cops will spend more time patrolling the interior of Fort Greene park, DeKalb Avenue near Flatbush Avenue Extension and the outskirts of the Ingersoll and Walt Whitman houses on Myrtle Avenue between St. Edwards Street and N. Portland Avenue.

A number of the robberies in the last few weeks occurred in or around the park, including a 13-year-old boy who was jumped on the corner of Myrtle and N. Portland avenues right after school dismissal.

Even with the recent spike, there have been 36 robberies since the year began, compared to 40 from the start of 2010.

“You look back a couple of weeks ago, and we were doing a lot better,” said Tasso. “This is a work in progress.”

Tasso expects the robbery unit to run through June.

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