Chief-Leader
November 6, 2012

 

Some NYPD Offices Damaged

Crime Dropped While Cops Still Had Their Hands Full

By MARK TOOR

Even while its officers pursued looters and prevented fights on gasoline lines, the Police Department found that both crime and absenteeism dropped during Hurricane Sandy.

Reported major crimes during the Monday-Friday week that began when Hurricane Sandy hit Oct. 26 were down by 32 percent over the same period last year, according to the department. Murder, rape, robbery, felonious assault, grand larceny and car thefts all declined. The seventh major-crime category, burglary, had a 3-percent rise.

'A Burglars' Paradise'

"It's a burglars' paradise when you think about it," Edward D. Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, told the New York Times. He was referring to the widespread power outages that left streets and storefronts dark.

"The homes of more than 500 members of the service incurred catastrophic damage due to the hurricane," NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said in a statement. "However, the department's absenteeism on Friday was 72 percent lower than the same period last year."

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association spokesman Al O'Leary said that although bridges were closed to the public, officers and other first-responders going to work were allowed to cross them "at their own risk."

Thousands of officers worked overtime, and many who normally worked special assignments or in plainclothes were assigned to uniform duty to bolster street patrols. DNAinfo.com reported that Police Headquarters was emptied out to provide additional foot patrols in hard-hit lower Manhattan, with officers told to stand close enough to see each other.

Five hundred recruits from the Police Academy recruits were assigned to direct traffic at intersections where power failures had disabled the lights. More than 100 retired officers returned to work as volunteers under the Retiree Mobilization Plan to assist with food distribution and other storm-related duties. RMP volunteers get training twice a year, carry a department-issued ID and wear specially-marked jackets.

Escorted Relief Trucks

Police resources were diverted for hurricane-related missions. Critical Response Vehicles normally assigned to counter-terrorism duties escorted military trucks delivering food and water to distribution centers throughout the city. Officers used vehicles with public-address systems to tell residents in areas without power about city shelters.

More than 150 mobile light towers were deployed around the city, being moved from places where electricity was restored to neighborhoods still in the dark. Department personnel jerry-rigged pick-up trucks with pumps to serve as mini-gasoline tankers, drivig from tower to tower to refuel their generators. The towers were equipped with surge strips to allow residents to recharge cell phones and other devices.

Police arrested a few dozen looters, particularly in Staten Island, Coney Island and the Rockaways. The Daily News reported that criminals in the Rockaways have been knocking on doors at night and identifying themselves as Long Island Power Authority workers. In the Midland Beach section of Staten Island, a man wearing a Red Cross jacket and checking the doorknobs of empty houses was arrested for burglary. In Coney Island, a large group of looters hit businesses on Mermaid Ave. the day after the hurricane.

Police were assigned to maintain order at gas stations with long lines, making at least 15 arrests for line-jumping and other disorderly conduct. Officers were also sent to help keep order at state armories where free gasoline was distributed from military tankers.

Coney Island Precinct Beached

Several department buildings suffered storm damage. One was the 60th Precinct stationhouse in Coney Island, where two floors were flooded and three basement walls collapsed. Eight officers were treated for hypothermia. A new boiler, generator, and water heater, along with new electrical wiring and general reconstruction, will be required before the stationhouse re-opens. Uniformed officers are operating from a temporary-headquarters vehicle parked outside the stationhouse, and Detectives are working out of the 61st Precinct Detective Squad.

The 100th Precinct in Rockaway will also require a new boiler, generator, water heater and general repair before it is re-opened. A temporary headquarters vehicle was set up at Beach 94th St. and Rockaway Beach Blvd. PSA 1, also in Coney Island, was flooded with five feet of water, and its Housing Bureau officers are working out of the community center in the Marlboro Houses, a Housing Authority development in nearby Gravesend. The first floor of PSA 4, on Manhattan's Lower East Side, was flooded and police are working from the second floor only while repairs were made.

Other damage occurred at Harbor bases in Queens and Brooklyn, at the Mounted stables of Troop E in Brooklyn, and at facilities in Transit District 23 in Rockaway and Transit District 34 in Coney Island. Manhattan South Narcotics personnel are working out of the 7th Precinct.