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.