Thursday, October 6, 2011
Flatbush Shomrim Help Launch New Civilian Watch Patrols For East Flatbush Community
Flatbush residents reeling from a spike in shootings are setting up a civilian watch group to patrol the streets.
The new civilian observation patrol will cover the 67th Precinct in Flatbush and East Flatbush - which has the most shooting victims of any precinct in the city this year.
Orthodox Jewish enclaves in the area have long had their own patrol, known as the Shomrim. Now, the rest of the neighborhood is getting its own force - and despite historic tensions between the black and Jewish communities, its leaders and Shomrim are working together to get it going.
I don't think we can afford the decrease in personnel at the precincts and [on] street patrols," said Terrence Joseph, Community Board 17 public safety committee chairman, who is organizing the patrol.
You can't afford to depend on the police alone to [keep violence down] because they can't do it, and that's why shootings have increased," he said.
Eighty-five people have been shot in the precinct so far this year - up from 59 at this time last year, a 44% jump.
The more eyes we have out on the street, the better it is for us," said Deputy Inspector Corey Pegues, commanding officer of the 67th Precinct.
Joseph said so far there are 15 applicants for the patrol, including Caribbean immigrants who were police officers in their native countries.
Starting this month, members will walk or drive along a beat, alert police to any suspicious activity and stay on the scene until cops arrive. A similar program was founded two years ago in Crown Heights.
"We finally have all parts of the community fed up and willing to do whatever they can to stop this violence," said Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-East Flatbush).
"When it comes to violence, they're looking for elected officials to do something, looking for the police to do something, but the community also needs to step up."
Joseph said the community had been wary of interacting with police in the past.
We're growing up as a community," he said. "Our community has been afraid of being involved, especially where the police are concerned, because ... we have had lots of run-ins with the police in the past."
In addition to training with the NYPD, new volunteers will go out with Flatbush Shomrim on several patrols to get a feel for the job. Shomrim also is donating walkie-talkies.
Shromrim is helping them get started. We will train them ... how to observe what is going on out on the street, how to determine if someone is committing a crime or not, how not to racial profile," said Flatbush Shomrim founder Chaim Deutsch.