Reduction in robberies key element in crime’s downward trend in the 70th Precinct

Crime in one central Brooklyn precinct still appears to be on a downward trajectory.

Five weeks into the new year, the 70th Precinct — which encompasses Flatbush, Midwood and Kensington — is down over 21 percent in crime, compared to the same period the year before, even as crime in the city, overall, is “about even,” year to date, said Deputy Inspector Ralph Monteforte, the precinct’s commanding officer.

Monteforte discussed the statistics with members of Community Board 14, gathered at Public School 249, Caton Avenue and Marlborough Road, for their February meeting.

“That’s a tremendous number,” Monteforte averred. “Crime continues to get lower and lower in this command.”

Asked by Gary Schultze, the co-chair of the board’s Police and Public Safety Committee, to comment on recent reports that crime statistics in the city may be under-reported, Monteforte said that, “If there’s a crime being reported out there, we take it. We need to know where the crimes are so we can put our officers in the right areas.”

The precinct’s crime reduction, Monteforte added, “Comes mainly from the hard work of the officers, putting them in the right spots and the right areas.”

The precinct’s impact zone, he later noted, is “still in place.” Monteforte also said that the precinct had “about the same amount of officers as last year.” Overall, in the 70th Precinct, three of the seven major crime categories show decreases, two show increases, and two are flat, according to the February 7th CompStat report.

The largest decrease is in robbery. There have been 20 so far in 2010, compared to 46 at this time last year, for a 56.5 percent reduction. Also way down is burglary. With 25 so far this year, compared to 43 at this point in 2009, that represents a reduction of 41.9 percent.

Some of the decrease in robberies, Monteforte said in a subsequent interview, reflects “work we’ve done with kids in the community, the outreach and the programs we offer.”

In particular, Monteforte cited the “Scared Straight” program in which police officers accompany youngsters to a prison, where they can speak with the inmates. People interested in having their children attend such a program, he added, can contact the precinct’s community affairs department at 718-851-5557.

The third category showing a decline is grand larceny. There have been 53 so far this year, compared to 62 at this point last year, for a reduction of 14.5 percent.

The two categories which have shown increases are felonious assault and grand larceny auto. The former is up 43.5 percent, with 33 so far this year compared to 23 at this time last year. The latter is up five percent. There have been 21 GLAs so far in 2010, compared to 20 at this point in 2009.

With respect to the increase in felonious assaults, Monteforte said they were “spread out evenly through the precinct,” and, he added, “In the majority of cases, the people getting slashed or stabbed are known to each other. They could be friends or domestic. Sometimes you get stabbings with robberies; that’s not happening.”

The two categories that are flat are murder and rape. There have been no murders so far in 2010; similarly, there were none at this point, last year. There have been two rapes so far this year; there were two at this point in 2009.

Another statistic that police officers keep a close eye on — though it’s not included in CompStat reports — is the number of shootings. Year to date, Monteforte said, the 70th Precinct is “even,” with one so far this year, and one at this time last year.

With respect to the one shooting this year, Monteforte added, the suspected perpetrator had already been collared. That arrest, he said, was made “within two days of the shooting.

“The precinct is doing quite well so far,” he added. “Hopefully, we’ll keep it up for the remainder of the year.”