The Mayberry P.D. it’s not.
But the 49th Precinct in the east Bronx might come close to TV’s fictional small town, coming into 2014 as the safest precinct in the city when it comes to crime reduction.
The precinct, which covers Allerton, Morris Park, Van Nest, Pelham Parkway, Eastchester Gardens and Pelham Gardens, led the city’s 77 precincts with a 27.4% crime complaint drop in 2013, with double digit declines in the seven felony crime categories. It came in first in the city in 2012.
“It is Mayberry in a way,” laughed Inspector Lorenzo (Andy) Johnson, the precinct commander.
“We’re lucky. We do have some spots, but we’ve made them smaller. And again, the hard work of the police officers.”
Credit to community
He gives much credit to the local community.
“It’s a pleasure to work in the precinct because of the way the community not only backs us, but also works along with us in keeping the community safe.
I get phone calls all the time, giving me a heads up – which is good.”
There were only two murders last year, compared to eight in 2012 – and 18 shooting victims, compared to 26 in 2012.
Non-violent crimes are a key issue in the heavily residential precinct, chief among them car break-ins.
“As we know, a lot of people who break into cars are drug addicts looking to fix their habit. So we reached out to Narcotics, and they’ve made a lot of possession arrests in the precinct.
“Anybody they arrest, they check to see if they pawned anything in pawnshops. Anybody who pawns anything has to place a photo of the property and they have to get photo ID’d and put into a computer that my field intelligence officer monitors on a daily basis.”
As another borough commander put it, “It’s amazing how car break-ins disappear when a junkie is locked up for a few months.”
Johnson has also made up flyers to place on car windows “to let people know that by keeping valuable stuff inside their vehicle, they are tempting thieves.”
To help stem violence, Johnson has used the NYPD’s Operation Crew Cut, which builds cases against street crews of older teens and younger men, not quite full blown street gangs, but responsible for local drug sales and a high percentage of violence.
“Right now, we have five crews in the precinct, around the Pelham Houses, Eastchester Gardens Houses and Parkside Houses, although a lot of them do not reside in public housing.
“My specially teams identify all these crew members, we distribute the photos to everybody, so we know who they are,” said Johnson. The biggest tool we have is monitoring their social networking. These people love to put what they do either on Instagram and a couple of other social networking outlets.
“Facebook, I was told, is for grandpa’s like me.”
For a look at the precinct’s crime numbers, go to nypd.org.