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When a Police Commissioner Visits Crown Heights
By: Rabbi Shea Hecht
About the author

NYPD Investigates Attack On Brooklyn Jewish Teen (Samuel Balkany)

With all that is going on in our community, Crown Heights is lucky. The Police Commissioner, Raymond Kelly, has worked in our community as Police Officer and the Commanding Officer of the 71st precinct. He would visit and spend time at 770 and was very friendly with the Rebbe's secretaries. During his tenure with the NYPD Commissioner Kelly has served in 25 different commands and in fact, held every single rank.

 

I would think that this gives him a unique perspective of the tension and difficulties that Crown Heights has been experiencing lately.

 

When Ray Kelly became Police Commissioner he was committed to bring the crime rate down. He continued in the tradition of the last few commissioners and brought crime down in New York City - especially the murder rate.

 

All this notwithstanding, many people in our community are concerned that though we feel the sting of the recent crimes in our neighborhood, when we reach out to the police we are told that the stats are down. The local patrols, who have their finger on the pulse of the community, are telling us that crime is up.

 

It was nice to be visited by the Police Commissioner recently, and be reassured that he'll look into the issues and see how they can be resolved. When Commissioner Kelly came out to meet with representatives of our community to listen to our concerns I reminded him of a private conversation I had with him over a year ago. What I told him at the time and reiterated recently was: "Even though your stats are showing crime is down, the perception of the people in the streets is that crime is up."

 

One of the solutions that was then discussed was to publicize the arrests and convictions of criminals to help restore community confidence.

 

We then came up with different possibilities for that discrepancy between the numbers that are showing and community sentiment and made a commitment that both of us would do our share to close the gap.

 

One of the issues that came up is that people who are victimized often don't report the crime to the police. Some of the causes for this that we discussed were: that people don't feel reporting crime will help and they don't have the time and patience to go through a system that is not user friendly.


Though these may be very valid reasons for not reporting crime - and surely there are others - each person who doesn't file a police report is allowing more people to be victimized by not helping to get these criminals off the street.  

 

An idea that's been presented to me recently - one worth considering - is to have an official office that helps those who were victimized by crime to file a complaint. Such an office would walk a victim through the necessary steps of filing a report. Additionally, that would give us another official source of crime statistics.

 

When William Bratton was transit police commissioner he worked with a theory called "The Broken Window Theory." The premise was that if you see something small like a broken window and you don't fix it you are inviting other crimes.

 

Working with that theory Mr. Bratton cleaned up the New York subway system. He had his officers arrest everyone they saw committing the relatively small crime of turnstile jumping. That immediately brought down the crime in the subway system. By arresting those who did petty crimes - those with a criminal mind - he emptied the subways of those who would potentially commit greater crimes. This created a whole new atmosphere in the New York subway system.

 

He carried this theory through as Police Commissioner.

 

While there is an onus on the police department to do their part and be there to protect our community, we must acknowledge the job that the New York City Police Department does for our community on a daily basis.

Our duty is to be more aggressive about reporting crimes - even seemingly minor ones - to help "fix the broken windows" in our community, as well as to be more vigilant. As the posters say, "If you see something, say something." We must help the police department by being their ears and eyes.

 

When the Rebbe spoke to the members of the police force he would bless them that they should only have to do preventive policing - in other words with a zero crime rate and safe streets.

 

Hopefully, this should come to fruition soon in preparation for the coming of Moshiach when we are promised that there will be peace in our communities and around the world.


Rabbi Shea Hecht's website: www.sheahecht.com


 
   
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