Community Board 1 fears losing cops in key area
As the city appears to be finalizing plans to move 40th Precinct headquarters from its longtime home on 138th Street, residents worry that the lack of police presence would leave that volatile area more vulnerable to crime.
District Manager Cedric Loftin announced at an Oct. 30 meeting of Community Board 1 that the deal to build a new stationhouse at the corner of 149th Street and Brook Ave. was done.
The mayor’s office did not respond to requests from the Herald to confirm that the plans are final. Angry board members complained the city has ignored the community’s needs in the process of planning the move.
“We need to meet with these people because not enough is being done,” said Brenda Goodwin. Another board member, Maura Cosme, argued that police have been taking longer and longer to respond to calls, a problem that will become worse if the precinct moves as planned, she feared.
“Nobody’s listening to us,” said the board’s Land Use and Housing committee chair, Arline Parks.
The city continues to float ideas to convert the current stationhouse into a hub for school safety officers or a new headquarters for PSA-7, the NYPD unit that polices public housing, and that is now housed on Melrose Ave.
But Mott Haven Houses tenant leader John Johnson argued that the expense of moving the housing cops to 138th St. would fall on the city’s Housing Authority. That, in turn, would take money away from safety, senior and education programs the mayor has promised NYCHA tenants as part of his plan to invest $52 million in upgrades.
“If they renovate the old precinct for NYCHA, it comes out of NYCHA’s budget,” Johnson said after the meeting. “What are we gaining at the end of the day?”
But having no police presence at that spot would be even more worrisome, said Pam Smith, tenant leader at Mitchel Houses across the street from the precinct. Although cops stationed at the precinct lack the authority to enter public housing, except in isolated circumstances—that responsibility lies with the PSA-7 officers—their presence serves as a crime deterrent, she said.
“It would be a bad decision,” to have no police presence at that corner, Smith said, “with all the fighting between the gangs from the different developments.”
Rank and file officers who work out of the ornate, 90 year old stationhouse at the corner of 138th Street and Alexander Ave, have long complained that the cramped quarters hurts morale.
“They’ve been talking about it since I’ve been here,” said one 15-year member of the force.
The precinct’s commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Lorenzo Johnson, wrote in an email to the Herald that, despite the circulating rumors, “I have not been given any definite information in regards to a possible relocation of the 40th Precinct.”