Police to meet with Van Nest community to address youth crime

The 49th Precinct is coming together with the Van Nest community to establish a dialogue with parents in hopes of preventing youth crime.

Due to a spike in youth-related crimes and an increase in arrests of people ages 9 to 17 in the “president streets,” a special dialogue that the 49th Precinct officers, parents, and young people called “Police Meets Parents,” will be held at St. Dominic School’s cafeteria on Friday, January 21 at 7:15 p.m.

The precinct will be represented by Captain Kevin Nicholson, youth officer and Explorer coordinator, crime prevention and Community Affairs Unit, as well as officers assigned to the Conditions Unit. Victor DiPierro, 49th Precinct community affairs officer, said that the meeting should serve as an opportunity to showcase what the precinct has to offer in terms of youth.

“What we are trying to do is build a relationship with the parents and children of Van Nest, and show them that we offer different programs for youth, including the Explorers and the Auxiliary Police,” DiPierro said. “We want to show kids who may have started down the wrong road that it is not too late to turn around.”

DiPierro said that police from the precinct are certainly not there to harass young people, nor arrest them when they do something wrong, but to help them as well.

The meeting is being sponsored by the Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance and Van Nest Community Association. The police are expected to make an announcement on new measures they plan to take because of an increase in crimes committed by youths. This includes vandalism, loitering, trespassing, and drugs and alcohol use. Other quality-of-life issues are also expected to be addressed.

The goal is to establish more of “a community network” that could be used in a proactive way to prevent youth crime before it has the chance to happen, said VNNA vice-president Bernadette Ferrara. Ferrara said that she heard that Captain Nicholson wanted to establish dialogue with families, and she attributes this to of an overall sense that there is a lack of parenting and adequate supervision that is leading to crime.

“The community should be grateful that the police are doing this,” Ferrara said. “There has got to be at least a minimal amount of parental or adult supervision. Captain Nicholson wants to address the need for more parenting. I understand more than anyone else that this can be difficult because I am a single parent. I make sure that my kid is not out at night, and we all need to.”

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