NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill (right) attends National Night Out.
BY EDITORIAL STAFF
On Tuesday, the city’s Police Department held its annual National Night Out, an event during which city residents can meet the police officers who serve their communities as well as sample free food, take part in games and activities and learn crime prevention tips.
Each of the borough’s 16 precincts held National Night Out events throughout Queens. In Southeast Queens over the years, these events have brought the community and their officers closer together.
In Jamaica’s 103rd Precinct, commanding officer Inspector John Cappelmann said that this relationship, combined with the new neighborhood policing program that was implemented last year, has helped his officers reach new heights in terms of improving quality of life.
“We have dedicated officers building relationships with business owners, residents, community organizations, churches and so on,” Capellmann told the Press of Southeast Queens. “So, when there is a problem that arises, there is an officer in the community to call right away to handle these situations and provide assistance.”
Similar to the rest of the city, crime is been steadily falling every year in Southeast Queens’ precincts.
“[This] year to date, we are down about 9 percent in crime—with a reduction in every major index crime, including a 5 percent reduction in robberies,” Capellmann said. “If you look at shootings, we are down 40 percent in shootings [this] year to date. There have been 10 shootings, compared to 18 at this point last year. The NCO Program is great and it really is building a bridge with the community, something that we really lost focus on over the years.”
Cappelmann welcomed two special guests into the borough during the 103rd’s event—Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill, both of whom discussed the progress being made in Southeast Queens.
The mayor told the community that he was proud to see a community care so much about the officers who serve them and to see that police maintain a healthy relationship with the residents of the 103rd.
“I want everyone to understand this,” de Blasio said. “Neighborhood policing is changing things to the foundation.
The whole idea for the policing community is to build real personal human relationships. To get officers to work in a small part of the neighborhood and get to know people personally on a first name basis. We want our officers in the morning to say ‘hello’ to members of the community and the community to greet these officers. When people know each other and they keep working together and share ideas and information, it makes everyone safer. It’s an idea that is very, very old. But it is an idea that really wasn’t present for a long time and it needed to be brought to this century.”
Cappelmann was presented with a proclamation from the mayor for the precinct’s work.
“I can safely say that the 103rd Precinct has been one of the leaders in the city in reducing crime and bringing this community closer together,” de Blasio said. “So, I want to say—inspector, a job well done to you and the men and women in your command.”
O’Neill said that he was thrilled to see his vision for neighborhood policing come to pass.
“You know, 20 to 25 years ago, we wouldn’t have seen this,” O’Neill said. “Wouldn’t have seen this many people. You wouldn’t have seen kids here playing in the park. And this is all the result of hard work by the men and women of this great police department.”
O’Neill also thanked community members—such as Erica Ford, founder of LifeCamp—for their efforts in reducing and preventing gun violence and other crimes in Southeast Queens.
O’Neill called Cappelmann the “best precinct commander in New York City.”
“John Cappelmann is a person who I’ve known for a long time and few people in the NYPD are more committed to their job than him,” O’Neill said.