Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs Hosts Forum on Neighborhood Safety

December 1, 2011
Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs (D- Flatbush) and the Flatbush Shomrim Safety Patrol came together on November 16 to welcome Deputy Inspector Eric Rodriguez to his new post as commanding officer of the 70th Precinct. The meet and greet, which was hosted by Rabbi Aryeh Ralbag and Rabbi Eliezer Sandler at the Young Israel of Avenue K, enabled members of the community to acquaint themselves with the new commander and to raise their concerns about safety and quality of life in the area. Evening discussions centered around the importance of community involvement with the local police force and the Flatbush Shomrim, a team of 40 Jewish civilian patrollers who aid in the pursuit and detainment of suspects until the police arrive.

“It’s always good for us to develop and maintain a working relationship with our police,” Assemblywoman Jacobs emphasized.

Chaim Deutsch, the founder of the Flatbush Shomrim, implored “the community to be our eyes and ears.” He added, “It’s impossible for the police to be everywhere. If you see something, say something.”

Rodriguez, who has been the commanding officer of the 70th Precinct since June 27, echoed their sentiments, noting that, “there have to be many partnerships in the community to make this work.

“Shomrim helps us out a lot, but we want more people to get involved.” He added, “We’re all in this together. We want the safest community possible.”

Rodriguez noted that the “majority of crime [in the 70th Precinct] is property crime,” not violent crime, adding that there has been about a 12% decrease in crime since he began his stint as commanding officer, and a 4% decrease over the past year. But, Rodriguez stressed, “you can’t look at the numbers when you’re the victim of a crime.”

To help protect Flatbush and Midwood residents during the holiday season, Rodriguez and Deutsch conveyed the following safety tips:

  1. If you go away for the weekend, make your house look occupied.

    • Keep shades slightly open.
    • Make sure your papers are picked up.
    • Ask neighbors to put their garbage in your can and park their car in your driveway.
  2. Don’t make your car into a holiday gift for burglars.

    • Don’t keep pocketbooks and electronics where they can be seen through the car window, including on the front and back seats.
    • Purchase tire locks to deter thieves.
    • Be mindful of fliers placed on your back windshield; car thieves often use them as a distraction.
  3. Keep your household valuables secure.

    • Store valuables such as jewelry in the last place thieves would think to check, such as the kitchen cabinet or the freezer.
    • Do NOT keep jewelry in the master bedroom.
  4. Criminals take advantage of longer nights. Be extra cautious at this time of the year.

    • Be extra vigilant on your commute to and from work or school.
    • Refrain from using mp3 players, cell phones and other electronics while commuting after daylight hours.
    • Install additional lights on your bicycle.
  5. Be wary of scam artists impersonating professionals.

    • Do not disclose credit card numbers or other personal information to alleged police officials soliciting money over the phone; the New York City Police Department NEVER makes phone calls for this purpose.
    • Don’t let strangers into your house without proper identification, even if they claim to be utilities technicians from Con Ed or Verizon.

For her part, Assemblywoman Jacobs emphasized that she and her team of staff, as well as the members of the Shomrim and the 70th Precinct, will remain committed to the community’s safety and well-being. “I would like to assure community residents that we will all continue to be available to work on their behalf,” Jacobs underscored. “We were pleased to be the conduit in affording the community this opportunity to meet Deputy Inspector Rodriguez. I thank Chaim Deutsch and Rabbis Ralbag and Sandler for helping us to organize this meeting.”