WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, MANHATTAN (PIX11)—The NYPD says it's beefing up patrols in one part of the city, and that there's a need for it. Residents tell PIX11 News they've noticed, but not everyone is happy about it.
A spike in all categories of violent crime in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, including a tripling of murders, is behind the move. Specifically, overall felony crime in the 34th precinct, which serves the neighborhood, is up more than twenty percent from a year ago, according to the NYPD's own CompStat figures.
Those statistics show a 150 percent jump in homicides over the same period, but have not yet been updated to reflect a homicide that happened on Wednesday. Miguel Rodriguez, 21, was gunned down around 12:40 A.M. holding a bag of groceries while he was in front of 205 Dyckman Street.
Ironically, that location is just outside of a 24-block area where the NYPD is adding officers. Starting this week, 50 members of the department's Impact Response Team have been added to the precinct's patrols, and are concentrating on the area bordered by St. Nicholas and Amsterdam Avenues, and 181st and 193rd Streets. That area has seen the bulk of the precinct's increased crime, which includes a nearly 50 percent rise in burglaries, and an almost 40 percent increase in car thefts over the last year.
"I've seen the cops, and it's a good thing," resident Carlos Rivera told PIX11 News. He said that he and his neighbors who live in the targeted area generally feel safer. One of those neighbors said, "Crime is already crazy. The more cops, the less crime."
But another resident did not want to give his name. Instead, he simply showed PIX11 News a ticket he received from a patrol earlier this week for an open container of beer. He told PIX11 News that he was guilty as charged, but felt the crackdown was too strict.
The NYPD, however, has regularly pointed out that combatting so-called quality-of-life crimes, like open containers or vandalism or panhandling, for example, helps to show a strong police presence and ultimately reduce major crimes. In a neighborhood that's had three times as many murders in the last year, and three times as many car thefts in the last month, crime reduction is a priority. The increased patrols are part of that effort.
That leads to one other complaint about the cops. This redeployment is temporary, targeting the summer and early fall, when more people tend to be outside, and crime often rises. Some residents voiced concern that when the police numbers decline, crime will take an opposite turn.