Police Commissioner Visits Crown Heights
By: Rabbi Shea Hecht
About the author
With all that is going on in our community, Crown Heights is lucky. The
Police Commissioner, Raymond Kelly, has worked in our community as
Police Officer and the Commanding Officer of the 71st
precinct. He would visit and spend time at 770 and was very friendly
with the Rebbe's secretaries. During his tenure with the NYPD
Commissioner Kelly has served in 25 different commands and in fact, held
every single rank.
I would think that this gives him a unique perspective of the tension
and difficulties that Crown Heights has been experiencing lately.
When Ray Kelly became Police Commissioner he was committed to bring the
crime rate down. He continued in the tradition of the last few
commissioners and brought crime down in New York City - especially the
All this notwithstanding, many people in our community are concerned
that though we feel the sting of the recent crimes in our neighborhood,
when we reach out to the police we are told that the stats are down. The
local patrols, who have their finger on the pulse of the community, are
telling us that crime is up.
It was nice to be visited by the Police Commissioner recently, and be
reassured that he'll look into the issues and see how they can be
resolved. When Commissioner Kelly came out to meet with representatives
of our community to listen to our concerns I reminded him of a private
conversation I had with him over a year ago. What I told him at the time
and reiterated recently was: "Even though your stats are showing crime
is down, the perception of the people in the streets is that crime is
One of the solutions that was then discussed was to publicize the
arrests and convictions of criminals to help restore community
We then came up with different possibilities for that discrepancy
between the numbers that are showing and community sentiment and made a
commitment that both of us would do our share to close the gap.
One of the issues that came up is that people who are victimized often
don't report the crime to the police. Some of the causes for this that
we discussed were: that people don't feel reporting crime will help and
they don't have the time and patience to go through a system that is not
Though these may be very valid reasons for not reporting crime - and
surely there are others - each person who doesn't file a police report
is allowing more people to be victimized by not helping to get these
criminals off the street.
An idea that's been presented to me recently - one worth considering -
is to have an official office that helps those who were victimized by
crime to file a complaint. Such an office would walk a victim through
the necessary steps of filing a report. Additionally, that would give us
another official source of crime statistics.
When William Bratton was transit police commissioner he worked with a
theory called "The Broken Window Theory." The premise was that if you
see something small like a broken window and you don't fix it you are
inviting other crimes.
Working with that theory Mr. Bratton cleaned up the New York subway
system. He had his officers arrest everyone they saw committing the
relatively small crime of turnstile jumping. That immediately brought
down the crime in the subway system. By arresting those who did petty
crimes - those with a criminal mind - he emptied the subways of those
who would potentially commit greater crimes. This created a whole new
atmosphere in the New York subway system.
He carried this theory through as Police Commissioner.
While there is an onus on the police department to do their part and be
there to protect our community, we must acknowledge the job that the New
York City Police Department does for our community on a daily basis.
Our duty is to be more aggressive about reporting crimes - even
seemingly minor ones - to help "fix the broken windows" in our
community, as well as to be more vigilant. As the posters say, "If you
see something, say something." We must help the police department by
being their ears and eyes.
When the Rebbe spoke to the members of the police force he would bless
them that they should only have to do preventive policing - in other
words with a zero crime rate and safe streets.
Hopefully, this should come to fruition soon in preparation for the
coming of Moshiach when we are promised that there will be peace in our
communities and around the world.