The fight to restore narcotics cops to the 45th Precinct is getting some star power behind it.
Council Speaker and mayoral contender Christine Quinn joined Councilman Jimmy Vacca at the September meeting of Community Board 10 to announce both were asking the borough commander to restore the unit.
“It is a lovely neighborhood. We want to make sure that we don’t lose resources and that things backslide in the neighborhood,” she told board members at their Sept. 20 meeting at Providence Rest.
The narcotics module – a team of investigators focusing on drug-related crime – was moved out of the 45th Precinct in the fall of 2011.
Since then, according to community leaders, the precinct has had to make do with sharing a module with the more drug-saddled, high-crime 43rd Precinct in neighboring Soundview.
In the past, the 45th Precinct’s narcotics module had five specialists, most of them detectives.
Police manpower stretched
With police manpower stretched thin across the borough and city, commanders have had to make hard choices on staffing assignments.
Both Quinn and Vacca released a letter dated Wednesday, September 19 calling on Assistant Chief Carlos Gomez, the NYPD Bronx Borough Commander to come up with some fancy personnel juggling.
“Concerns of increased drug activity from community leaders and residents have risen significantly in the Throggs Neck, City Island, Pelham Bay, and Country Club communities since the 45th Precinct’s full-time module was removed,” stated the joint letter to Gomez from Quinn and Vacca.
“We have complete confidence that, under the leadership of former commanding officer Deputy Inspector Russell Green and current commanding officer James McGeown, the men and women of the 45th Precinct have worked very hard to ensure that these communities are adequately protected from illicit drug activity,” the letter continued. “However, we believe that the drug activity in the precinct cannot be fully and comprehensively monitored without a dedicated narcotics module.”
The sentiments in the letter were shared by Community Board 10 chairman John Marano, who spent about two years as a narcotics officer during his time at the NYPD.
Marano has been advocating for the return of the module full-time ever since it was moved.
“The criminals know when the cops are not here, and they know when they are – it is a business for them,” said Marano.
Having the narcotics module would allow the precinct commander to re-focus his resources on other types of crimes, he said, making criminals think twice before breaking into a car or breaking into someone’s home because they know that the cops will be around to investigate those complaints.
Board 10 has also asked Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to return the module.
“Having a narcotics module,” said Marano, “will definitely keep drug dealers on their toes.”
Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at (718) 742-3393