After NYPD rejection, planned patrol looks to go solo

Niko Kritikos (l) and Barry Wyman are the coordinators for the 45th Precinct Civilian Patrol.
Photo courtesy of Niko Kritikos

Last year Country Club resident Niko Kritikos began a fundraising effort for the new 45th Precinct Civilian Observation Patrol to fight petty crime in the area, something he knows about from first hand experience.

“I was the victim of a drunk hit-and-run driver,” he recalled. “I didn’t have any police backup because all five cars on shift were at a shooting in Co-op City. So I was holding down a drunk hit and run driver for hours, and I thought to myself, ‘wow we don’t have enough resources even though we’re the biggest (Bronx) police precinct.’”

But Kritikos, who runs a surveillance and security company, said that while the 45th Precinct had been supportive of his idea, NYPD brass at 1 Police Plaza decided against supporting any new patrols due to liability costs.

“I had to switch gears,” he said. “We’re getting our (own) license to become a corporation and we are getting our own insurance and getting everything done privately. The only difference is that we won’t be backed by the NYPD, we’re not officially trained by the NYPD, we don’t get NYPD cards.”

Kritikos said he hoped that after a few years the patrol will be respected enough to make the NYPD change its tune and work with them.

An online fundraising page, www.gofundme.com/CivilianPatrol has been established to collect private donations for the endeavor.

Kritikos said most of the patrol work would be overnight, since NYPD Auxiliary Police are not allowed to do patrols after midnight.

“That’s when the kids ride around on their bikes stealing car rims and tires and go into people’s backyards to steal bikes and change from people’s vehicles. That’s the kind of little crime that we are focusing on,” he said.

Kritikos stressed that patrol members would not be armed.

“We don’t want our volunteers doing anything more than if you see something say something,” he sad, “We’re going to be calling it in (to police) and making sure nothing gets violent – I don’t want these volunteers in any danger.”

Kritikos said he received significant assistance from John Cerini, an accountant by trade and treasurer of the Throggs Neck Merchant Association.

Cerini said he is completing the group’s paperwork at no cost, charging them only the $700 501c3 filing fee and $275 IRS fee.

“He’s been helping up out with fliers and getting donations and marketing and we’ve been using his office space,” Kritikos said. “He’s really been doing a lot for us.”

Kritikos is hoping to get grant funding after being incorporated and said local elected officials have offered to help the group identify funding.

For more information, contact Kritikos at (347) 426-8156 or at totallywirednyc@yahoo.com.

Reach Reporter Arthur Cusano at (718) 260-4591. E-mail him at acusano@cnglocal.com.

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