National Night Out
Story and photos by Robin Elisabeth Kilmer
Some of the best weapons for fighting crime don’t require a badge.
Face paint, raffle tickets and inflatable castles help, too.
National Night Out against Crime this past Tues., Aug. 6th was celebrated with community events organized by police departments across the country.
The 34th Precinct hosted its event at the Anne Loftus Playground.
“The coming together of community at a public place for a common goal [helps to] fight crime,” said the Precinct’s Commanding Officer Barry Buzzetti.
Taralyn Colón, who came with her 1-year-old son, Seaneric, concurred.
“When the neighborhood gets together, everything is better,” she said as she watched her son play in the inflatable castle.
The latter was all the rage that day as children bounced up and down with abandon after patiently waiting their turn in line.
“They’ve been in there about one hundred times,” said Steve Fleming, of his sons Natan and Noah, who soon lined up for another round.
Fleming said he felt safe in Inwood, and described it as a family-oriented neighborhood. There were some local events that were disconcerting, he said.
“It’s close enough where it makes you nervous,” he said.
But both Colón and Fleming felt safe with their children at the park.
Numbers show that crime has decreased locally in the past 20 years.
According to NYPD statistics of reported crimes in the 34th Precinct, there were 5 murders last year, 7 in 2001 and 50 in 1993.
In 1993, there were 89 reported rapes. In 2001, there were 27 and last year there were 19.
Officer Buzzetti pointed out that there haven’t been any homicides in the precinct so far this year. Area residents are on alert, however, after a man was caught on camera trying to rape a woman on 212th Street last month.
The Special Victims Unit is still investigating the incident, said Officer Buzzetti.
Though the numbers look good, some say they wouldn’t let their guard down.
“I don’t feel safe walking [alone] at night. You have to be accompanied by someone,” said María Holguín.
But events like these were a step in the right direction, she said. “It’s nice for the community.
It’s a distraction for the youth and gives them something to do. There’s a lack of events like this.”
For more information on the 34th Precinct, please visit www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/html/precincts/precinct_034.shtml or call 212.927.9711.