It’s like combining a cop and concierge.
Sheepshead Bay residents are singing the praises of the 61st Precinct’s neighborhood policing program. The locally assigned officers are far better able to respond to quality- of-life issues, and let residents know that their concerns are being addressed, according to the chairwoman of Community Board 15.
“When there’s an issue, within hours you’ll get an e-mail or call from them saying they’re on it,” said Theresa Scavo. “I only have good things to report.”
The neighborhood policing program assigns “neighborhood coordination officers” to give attention to lower-level issues such as illegal parking, noise complaints, and other quality-of-life concerns that can sometimes get lost on the back burner when the precinct is dealing with more urgent crimes.
The neighborhood coordination officers work only within their assigned sectors of the precinct, allowing them to engage with locals in a way that patrol officers and detectives can’t.
“We consider ourselves the community’s own private cops,” said Sgt. Michael Szczecinski, who heads the program in the precinct. “We aren’t chained to a radio.”
The initiative began in the 61st precinct on Jan. 22, and since then the officers have been making the rounds of local civic meetings to explain the program, including the Madison-Marine-Hillcrest Civic Association on March 15.
Szczecinski and the other neighborhood coordination officers hand out their cell phone numbers and e-mail addresses at each gathering, including which sector they are assigned to, as well as a map of the sectors. The officers ask to be called directly, especially for neighbor-to-neighbor disputes or recurring problems. That direct connection allows them to deal with nuisance issues much more efficiently than police could in the past, according to Szczecinski.
“Everyone has had the experience of waiting ten days and nothing happens,” he told the Madison-Marine-Hillcrest Civic Association. “We’re much quicker. We’re specifically on call for your community.”
Some of the most common cases the neighborhood coordination officers work with are blocked driveways, cars blocking fire hydrants, garbage problems, and noisy parties and events.
Much of their work consists of communicating with city agencies on behalf of locals, according to Szczecinski, who said his officers are empowered to cut through red tape.
“We’re given the keys to the city to talk to city agencies,” he said at the meeting, “It’s one stop. You come to us and we figure it out.”
The vice president of the Bay Improvement Group in Sheepshead Bay said the neighborhood coordination officers provide much better service than a city hotline.
“Calling a 911 switchboard, you don’t get the attention you would calling an officer from the program,” said Jack Spadaro. “It’s bringing back the days where a beat cop knew you by name.”
Sergeant Michael Szczecinski
Officer Kashif Iftikhar
Officer Dym Yevgeny
Officer Yakov Shnayder
Officer Thomas Costarella
Officer Shilendra Sawh
Officer Osvaldo Marcillo
Officer Nicholas Felix
Officer Artem Makaryan