The June 2011 meeting of the 34th Precinct Community Council was the best attended meeting of the council since I began attending one year ago. About 100 residents packed the small library at Yeshiva University to hear the administrator of northern Manhattan parks, Jennifer Hoppa, discuss impressive plans for renovating various parks north of 168th Street. Captain Jose Navarro gave his usual, no-nonsense update on crime in the precinct.
After discussing the renovation plans, Ms. Hoppa fielded questions that mainly focused on improving safety in parks. While acknowledging that the City has only assigned three full-time and four summer parks police to northern Manhattan, she suggested that improving parks would activate and enliven them, thus reducing isolation and crime. She also noted that the NYPD has temporarily assigned a number of officers to patrol Inwood Hill Park in the wake of a sexual assault there in early June.
Captain Navarro began with a discussion of that and two other sexual assaults. The first occurred in the Dyckman ball fields at about 8:30 p.m. at the far northern end of the fields. The second occurred within a building at Fort Tryon Gardens, just opposite the exit from the A train. The third occurred on Overlook Terrace just outside the exit from the A train. The third attack was foiled by the victim and others on the street.
The victim from the Dyckman fields has given police a good description of the assailant and flyers with that drawing are circulating widely in the neighborhood. The victim in the second attack described the assailant as a young, dark-skinned hispanic man, 20-25 years old. A security camera in the co-op building also filmed him. The victim and passersby in the third attack described the assailant as a young, dark-skinned man with multiple lip piercings and naval-star tattoos on both calves. A camera in the 181st Street station of the A train also filmed as he fled the botched attack.
The good news in the precinct is that the Captain has secured a wide array of temporary officers to fight crime. His special task force on illegal mopeds and motorcycles has also seized 25 of the bikes this year.
The community council will resume its meetings in September 2011, led once again by president George Espinal.