Some police council meetings are boring. Last night's meeting was not. Fortunately, most of the excitement seems to be taking place outside Hudson Heights, which is how I'd like to keep it. I'll give the rundown on our immediate surroundings and then mention some highlights from Inwood.
Several speakers pleaded with Officer Morales (deputy commanding officer of the 34th Precinct) to crack down on motorcycle racing on the Henry Hudson Parkway, which is both loud and dangerous. Morales noted that the precinct is taking steps to seize unregistered motorcycles and stop speeding. But he expressed an unwillingness to send his officers into high speed chases on local roads.
I spoke about the situation in the 181st Street "A" station, which has deteriorated since the MTA removed the southern station agent in 2011. At the February council meeting I asked Morales to send more officers into the station to deter loitering, public urination, pan-handling and worse. Within a day, residents noted an increased police presence. At last night's meeting I thanked Morales and urged the precinct to maintain the random patrols. Note that the precinct shares jurisdiction over the station with the NYPD's transit precinct.
Another resident complained about dangerous speeding on 181st Street and Cabrini Boulevard. The situation is compounded by livery cabs that park in crosswalks, forcing pedestrians to venture outside the crosswalks. Morales pledged to crack down on both speeding and illegal parking by livery cabs. Note that the precinct did conduct a similar crackdown at Fort Washington Avenue and 187th Street a few months ago, but the livery cabs are slowly returning to their old habits of parking in the crosswalks.
The final Hudson Heights complaint came from a resident of Riverside Drive just north of the George Washington Bridge. Everyone passing by the spot under the bridge and its ramps knows how bad it is, with litter, broken car glass and graffiti marring one of the main entrances to our neighborhood. But this speaker reported on public sex, sidewalks strewn with condoms and other "sexual paraphanalia," homeless people camping out in park entrances and animal remains apparently left from Santaria worship. By this point in the meeting, Morales was on the defensive and promised to take unspecified action at the spot. Hudson Heights Gazette will be following up on the location this weekend.
The rest of the meeting focused on the serious deterioration in quality of life in parts of Inwood, where bars and restaurants on Dyckman Street are making life unbearable for many residents. The council unanimously passed a resolution calling on the precinct to maintain a strong police presence on the block all summer, add mounted patrols and take other actions. But Dyckman Street is not the only location of party culture gone wrong. Residents of 205th Street and 9th Avenue gathered en masse at the meeting to plead for a crackdown on street parties that rage through the night on that block. Summer will dramatically exacerbate the situation and bring more thugs onto the streets.
The take-away from the meeting is clearly that this fine precinct is under-staffed. Perhaps this is an overstatement, but it seems able to do little more than chase problems around the community. I like Morales. He knows the facts, keeps his cool and has a great sense of humor. But one wonders whether the precinct has the resources to deal with what's in store this summer.