Bring back our drug cops!
That’s the battle cry from east Bronx community leaders fighting local thugs selling drugs.
The 45th Precinct lost its narcotics unit last fall.
Now Community Board 10 is circulating petitions calling on Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to bring it back.
Currently, the precinct “shares” a narcotics module with the more crime-ridden 43rd Precinct covering Soundview and Parkchester.
The 45th Precinct’s full-time module was staffed by five specialists, mostly detectives, investigating local drug activity, based on reports by precinct cops and civilian complaints, said Community Board 10 chairman John Marano, a former narcotics cop himself.
He said Board 10 has reached out to all local community groups to collect petition signatures.
The response has been enthusiastic, he said, from such groups as the City Island Civic Association and Waterbury LaSalle Community Association.
“The senior officers and patrol staff of the 45th Precinct are working very hard to ensure that we have adequate protection,” said Board 10 district manager Kenneth Kearns. “However, they are hampered by the small contingent of officers, one of the largest geographic areas and a changing patrol environment.”
Kearns said the board wants to see the drug module returned and precinct “brought up to proper staffing levels.”
The drug trade in the 45th Precinct is more clandestine and less brazenly out in the open than in other precincts, Marano noted.
“It is ignorance on everyone’s part to say there are no drugs in this neighborhood,” he said.
Drug sales in the 45th Precinct often take place indoors, in hand-to-hand deals when a car pulls up to another, or using untraceable cell phones, said Marano.
He also took umbrage with the argument that the 45th Precinct does not need narcotics officers because crime statistics do not show many drug crimes.
“The numbers are low because there is no one investigating drug dealing,” argued Marano.
“They once had five undercover detectives investigating these crimes, and now we don’t have a team dedicated to stopping drug sales in the 45th Precinct. Don’t tell us that we don’t have manpower – give the citizens more! It is the police department’s job to keep my children and all children in this precinct safe from drugs.”
The precinct is also being neglected with fresh manpower when rookies graduating from the police academy get their assignments, he charged, adding that it has been the case “for decades.”
Marano had high praise, however, for the precinct commander, Capt. Russell Green, and appreciates Commissioner Ray Kelly.
“I would love to speak to the commissioner himself,” said Marano. “I am fan of his, I think he is standing his ground and doing a good job, but I think the 45th Precinct is getting neglected.”
Meanwhile, Marano is calling for support from the community of working class people looking for a safe environment to live and raise children.
“Why should we lose our neighborhoods now and rebuild them later?” Marano asked. “Let’s keep our community the way we are used to it, and not have people move out because they are afraid of crime.”
Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393