Saturday, July 02, 2011

Appeal from CHCA: Save the Impact Zone

Many people have already seen the following message from the Crow Hill Community Association, but if you haven't, the NYPD (under budget pressure, though they don't couch it in those terms) is reallocating officers deployed in Impact Zones (of which Franklin Avenue is one) to the WTC Command, as reported on Friday in the Daily News. This means, of course, that some Impact Zones will get the ax, and the CHCA is organizing to ensure that Franklin, which has been an Impact Zone for over a year, remains one.

ILFA has trod this ground recently, and I pass this message on with some ambivalence. Crime along Franklin is undoubtedly down from a few years ago, when ILFA spent the summer reporting a rash of shootings along the Avenue, and while demographic changes have certainly played a role in this trend, the work of the NYPD, CHCA, and Impact Zone officers has made most of the difference. Nonetheless, crime remains a real problem in Crown Heights - Propsect Heights Patch reported a spike in rapes this June, and the work of SOS Crown Heights is a reminder that gun violence continues to take lives in the neighborhood - and residents are certainly justified in organizing to preserve the police presence in the neighborhood.

"Zero tolerance" policing, however, remains hugely problematic, and all too often marginalizes and quickens the disintegration of communities it purports to protect. I wrote about this after the abusive arrest of a community leader and the helicopter incident (Patch reports that one family involved in that clash is suing the police), and I remain unconvinced that the NYPD has taken any steps to address the extremely high social cost of stop-and-frisk, quota-based policing that criminalizes Black and Latino youth. Bob Herbert (a Brooklyn native) did much in his final year at the New York Times to bring what he called "Jim Crow Policing" to light, and a recent NYT article notes that many African-Americans cite police harassment as a reason for leaving New York (New York City's Black population shrank from 2000 - 2010, the first time the city had registered a net loss of African-Americans since 1880). For more on how zero tolerance policing has gone awry, take a look at this piece by a former NYPD officer about his time in an Impact Zone in Alphabet City and the Village Voice's "NYPD Tapes" series about quotas in Bed-Stuy.

That said, the Crow Hill folks have been working hard for Franklin Avenue for 26 years and counting. The diversity (of race/ethnicity, age, and economic status) of their membership and leadership committee is a testament to their mission to serve everyone in the neighborhood, and they believe that having an Impact Zone is better than not having one. I believe they will work as hard as they can to hold the NYPD accountable, and if they succeed in keeping the Impact Zone, it will be incumbent upon all of us who support them to help ensure that local policing serves the entire community.

For the past year Franklin Avenue has benefitted greatly by being an Impact Zone; it has made our neighborhood a much safer place to live and work

Crow Hill Community Association has worked very closely with the 77th Precinct to help insure that this program is a success. but we have learned that there is a strong possibility that we may lose this additional police protection.

We are asking EVERYONE to weigh in on this issue, NYPD needs to hear our voices or theImpact Zone will move to a more vocal community.



We have prepared 2 types letters, choose which is best for you (view text below):

  1. Short & Sweet: a pdf version that you can print out (if possible, on to your own stationary). Sign and mail: resident version or merchant version


  2. Customizable: a document that you can download to your word processing program and customize. customizable version

Please mail your signed letter to:
Chief Gerald Nelson
Patrol Borough Brooklyn North
179 Wilson Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11237-3742

STEP #2: We also need you to sign our petition

Please urge your neighbors to get involved, especially if you live in an apartment building.
Print the letter for them to sign,
If you collect a bunch of letters, you can drop them off at HAD Associates (737 Franklin Ave) and we will send them in

What is an Impact Zone:

Impact is the NYPD program that deploys foot patrol to communities in the City where the need is the greatest. The Impact Zone officers are rookies, this is their first assignment out of the Academy, this is their training ground.

Impact Zones are considered "Zero Tolerance" areas. The goal of Impact is to create better quality of life on our streets; a factor that is shown to have a great effect on the reduction of crime in a community. This means that minor offenses (littering, spitting, bike riding on the sidewalk, etc.) are more subject to summonses this is something that we all need to be aware of.

While Franklin Avenue has improved greatly over the past few years, we still have the potential of being overrun with illegal activities including robberies and street drug sales along with its associated gun violance. Crow Hill's residents and merchants still need the Impact Zone. One of the most important factors in establihing safer communities is creating a vibrant and positive community street life, the Impact Zone has given us the opportunity for this to flourish on Franklin Avenue. This in turn has lead to the recent boom of new businesses.

CHCA has worked very closely with the 77th Precinct to help insure that this program is a success. We are aware that there have been incidents on the Avenue where community residents have had negative experiences with Impact Zone officers. This is also of concern to us and we have had several beneficial meetings with the 77th Precinct on this issue. We have also had discussions on this topic at our last two meetings. We welcome your concerns. Please contact us if you would like to discuss anything relating to this issue or if you would like us to facilitate an opportunity to actually address the impact officers directly at roll call before they are deployed daily to Franklin Avenue.

Sample Letter:

Dear Chief Nelson:

I have been a [merchant/resident] of the Crow Hill section of Crown Heights for [ ] years. I am writing in support of keeping the Impact Zone on Franklin Avenue. With the increased foot patrol the Avenue has been able to flourish, new businesses are opening and community spirit has greatly improved. I am afraid that without the additional police presence, our street corners will once again be dominated by threatening groups of individuals conducting illegal business. With the rise of drug activity on our streets comes an increase in both gun violence and the random muggings and break-ins that can plague our community.

Franklin Avenue has come a long way over the past few years and we are grateful for the attention that Brooklyn North has given our community but we are not out of the woods yet. With schools out for summer and fewer opportunities for our youth, I am concerned that the loss of the Impact Zone will precipitate a sharp decline towards former dangerous conditions.

I urge you to keep the Impact Zone on Franklin Avenue.



  1. If so, then "Cop Recorder" for documenting behavior of the police.

  2. Your paragraph about police violence against blacks and latinos is an impressive compilation of resources. The opinion piece by Bob Herbert in the NYTimes is particularly resonant for me. This is scary stuff. I'm glad you're keeping this conversation going.

  3. Way to go ...bring on the police state and can't wait for the military state!
    Be careful what you ask for.
    Wake Up.