- Published in: Brooklyn Heights Courier
A pocket of Brooklyn has the highest juvenile crime rate in the city – and police say robberies of iPods, fancy cell phones and other expensive electronic devices are at least partly to blame.
“That’s the new thing,” said 84th Precinct Crime Prevention Officer John Kenny. “They just snatch it off your ear. The era of cell phones, BlackBerries, iPods – that’s the source of a lot of these robberies.”
Police are targeting youth crime in Community District 2, which includes Brooklyn Heights, Fort Greene and Boerum Hill.
A 2007 New York City Police Department Statistical Report found there were 28.7 arrests per 1,000 youths age 16 and under on felony and misdemeanor charges in Community District 2. That’s more than double the juvenile crime rate for New York City, and the highest rate of any district in the five boroughs.
Youth Officer Julius Hudson, of the 84th Precinct, said that most juvenile crimes occur when students get out of school. The community district has 32 public schools and 16 private institutions, many of which are close to one another.
“As for now, we do have a little rise in student incidents in the area but it’s mostly attributed to an influx of students being dismissed at the same time,” he said.
Hudson said that the hot spots for juvenile crime shift from year to year, normally occurring when students from neighboring schools cross paths on their way to subway stations. Jay Street has proved a trouble spot in recent months, he added.
“We’ve heightened our police presence this year,” Hudson said. “Our precinct is so flooded with officers. Almost anywhere you turn, there’s someone in a uniform.”
Jamall Merrimon, 13, a Prospect Heights resident and ninth-grade student who was walking down Jay Street after school one recent afternoon, said he has noticed the increase in police.
“I’m seeing a lot of patrol cars and more cops,” he said. “A lot of investigations [are] happening and a lot of attacks. People starting fights and getting threatened with knifes and things like that have been happening downtown lately.”
In addition to boosting patrols, 84th Precinct cops have been picking up truants and giving speeches at various schools about safety and crime prevention.
“We work very closely with the NYPD,” said Margie Feinberg, spokeswoman for the Department of Education. “We take school safety extremely seriously. And that’s why we have a lot of programs for students so that we can address problems before they escalate.”
The Department of Education banned cell phones in public schools in 2005. But Kenny said the ban should be more strictly enforced.
Disagreement on Ban
Victor Earl, 17, a senior at Urban Assembly School of Music and Art, disagreed.
“Some kids need it [cell phone],” he said. “The school be acting like they [students] can’t use the office phone and sometimes you need it. Especially in an emergency.”
But Tykese Simmons, 14, welcomed stronger enforcement of the ban. His limited-edition Dwayne Wade T-Mobile Sidekick 3 was robbed over the summer by a group of teenagers. Although he was not hurt, Tykese is now out $400.
“Kids that don’t go to school wait outside to see what phone and money you have,” he said, “and if your phone is in the house, it can’t get stolen.”
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