By COLlive reporter
Nearly 50 Crown Heights residents turned out, despite a heavy snowstorm, for the launch event of the Crown Heights Neighborhood Watch initiative on Sunday.
The event was to launch the formation of a new neighborhood watch comprised of unarmed volunteers who will assist in patrolling Brooklyn’s Crown Heights area.
Zaki Tamir, an attorney who heads the local Vaad Hakohol, founded the Neighborhood Watch to add volunteer security patrols throughout the neighborhood in response to a recent uptick in violence in the area, creating anxiety and fear in the community.
Tamir said he is pleased with the results of the meeting, as it brought awareness to the need for locals to pitch in and help secure the neighborhood.
“The point of getting people to join the group, is to be able to supply real-time knowledge and mobilize people to help in minutes – whether it’s to prevent crime or even to have someone nearby in case of any emergency, medical or otherwise,” Tamir said. “We hope to have hundreds of people join the sectors to create a large community network,” he said.
“If anyone knows of a situation where there is a dangerous individual around, or even a group of school children arriving home at night from an event,” anyone in that sector can ask for assistance, Tamir explains.
Yanky Preger, a long-time member of the Shmira volunteer patrol group, spoke about what to remember as a volunteer.
He advised those volunteering to exercise caution, and not just jump into a dangerous situation.
Preger also advised that volunteers remember to just report facts and what they observe, and remember not to report speculation or impressions, because that could work against a witness during a trial.
Sometimes, the best thing is to get a visual, but stay out of eyesight, Preger said, advising volunteers to be safe and be careful, and remember you may not be able to deal with an incident yourself.
R’ Yisroel Shemtov, who has been involved in protecting the Crown Heights neighborhood for over 50 years, encouraged people to get involved.
Shemtov said that while years ago he had to put his life in danger to protect the Crown Heights neighborhood, where crime was rampant and there was much racial tension, nowadays the streets are much safer.
Shemtov remarked that all that is needed now is to sit in your car and drive around, since the number one deterrent of crime is when the criminals know they are being watched. All volunteers need to do is put on their hazard lights, and drive around the neighborhood, he said.
“Are you ready to talk, or are you ready to do? Anyone can talk, but are you ready to do?” Shemtov asked.
Detective Vinny Martinos, community affairs officer for the 71st Precinct in Crown Heights for 27 years, also spoke, advising on what to be careful of in a volunteer program.
If you are on patrol, do your best to get a look at the person’s face, Martinos advised, saying that it’s even more important than getting a video.
He also advised residents not to shy away from giving testimony or being a witness in a case against a criminal. He said it is crucial that witnesses answer the call of the DA, and go in and testify, and help get criminals prosecuted.
Martinos also advised volunteer patrols to never write anything that will weaken the case as far as identity or uncertainty, since everything you write may become a part of the evidence of a case, he explained.
Martinos also gave tips on what should be called in to the police.
If you see a guy standing on a corner, don’t report that, since he is allowed to do that, he said. But, if you see a guy that’s in the doorway of a building, and you see him loitering there, then you can call the police. The key is that volunteers should be wary of inundating the police and volunteer safety patrols with irrelevant calls.
Martinos also acknowledged the existence of drug dealers in the neighborhood, but cautioned against volunteer patrols taking action without police supervision. If anyone knows of any crime taking place locally, residents are encouraged to go to the police with the information, who will deal with it, he said.
Here are the sectors planned:
Sector 1 East.
St Johns and Lincoln Place. From Albany to Rochester Ave.
Sector 1 West.
St Johns and Lincoln Place Nostrand to Albany Ave.
Sector 2 East.
Eastern Parkway (both sides) From Albany to Rochester Ave.
Sector 2 West.
Eastern Parkway (both sides) Nostrand to Albany Ave.
Sector 3 East.
Union and President Streets. From Albany to Rochester Ave.
Sector 3 West.
Union And President streets. From Nostrand to Albany Ave.
Sector 4 East.
Carroll and Crown Streets. From Albany to Rochester Ave.
Sector 4 West.
Carroll and Crown streets. From Nostrand to Albany Ave.
Sector 5 East.
Montgomery St and Empire Blvd. From Albany to Rochester Ave.
Sector 5 West.
Montgomery St and Empire Blvd. From Nostrand to Albany Ave.
Sector 6 Includes East/West.
All of Lefferts Ave and Sterling St. (includes Lamont Ct and Balfor Pl.)
Sector 7 East.
East New York Ave and Maple St. From Albany to Rochester Ave.
Sector 7 West.
East New York Ave and Maple St. From Nostrand to Albany Ave.
Sector 8 Includes East/West.
All of Midwood to Winthrop.
All Patrol emails will be forwarded straight to the coordinator for each sector.
Those wishing to participate should email [email protected] “Write in the subject line which sector you are in. For example, if you live on President and Troy write in the subject “3 East Coordinator” or “3 East Patrol.” If you are willing to be the sector coordinator put the word coordinator in the subject line. Otherwise, write Patrol. In the body of the email write your full name and phone and what hours you are available.