Even after pressure from elected officials, PSD Community Engagement meetings are all the community has in formal contact with RIOC. That makes them all that much more important and their low-quality content even more aggravating. But October’s Community Engagement was among the worst, and if responsible management was in place PSD Chief Kevin Brown would be on his way out.
by David Stone
UPDATE, November 6th, 2023: During the community engagement, Chief Brown also mumbled that things were going well with the Tram where overcrowding, long lines and safety violations are frequent.
Two videos have shown us that this isn’t true either. Here is the latest, shared from the Roosevelt Islanders Instagram account, showing a Roosevelt Island mother with two infants being refused access to the tram:
END OF UPDATE:
Last week at the October Community Engagement, Chief Brown said that Roosevelt Island had only three thefts all year, denying claims of an increase in crimes. While the chapel acoustics emphasize his mumbling and meandering style, the chief in a kind of “Aw, shucks” presentation described a couple of kids stealing AirPods and one theft in the Wholesome Factory market.
Nothing to see here…
Community Engagement of Community Evasion?
So few attended the event, you could hear a pin drop, but jaw drops were more likely. Three thefts? And two of them juvenile mischief?
Not only did PSD not report this crime, but it also skipped another theft within a few days.
In the second incident, I sat in the bus shelter adjacent to Bread & Butter Market, midday on a Saturday, when a man came running down the sidewalk, shouting, “My wallet! My wallet!”
He was so desperate, he ran into the street to flag down a marked PSD vehicle, explaining the theft, and seconds later, a PSO on a bicycle raced down the street with him, turning into the alley between Westview and PS/IS 217.
That also doesn’t appear, as far as we can tell, on Public Safety’s official report.
Low crime statistics are easier when you just don’t bother reporting them.
Reality Interrupts the Community Engagement Deception
Was Chief Brown lying or simply playing with words?
Here’s the truth.
PSD submits activity reports for every RIOC board meeting, but nobody, least of all the board members, reads them.
Simple “Thefts” are not reported anywhere, but “Grand Larceny,” “Burglary,” and “Robbery” are by category. The totals for all three come to 13 for the year. That’s not awful, but it ain’t 3 either.
More alarming, though, is “Petit Larceny.” PSD does not say how it separates this category from the others, but the official report shows an eye-opening 125.
Of those, only 2 resulted in an arrest. That’s bad, but consider the arrest total for “Grand Larceny.” There were 8 incidents, yet there was not a single arrest.
At best, Brown is guilty of handing out misleading, filtered information with the apparent intent of making his department, the most expensive in all of mainly resident-funded RIOC, look better than it is.
But It’s Even Worse
After describing the three thefts, Brown added, “Those are our most violent crimes on Roosevelt Island…”
According to the Roosevelt islander...
Roosevelt Island crimes this year not mentioned by Chief Brown during his presentation include:
- bloody stabbing inside the Bread & Butter Deli,
- teenager stomped on and beat by a group of other teenagers,
- hate crime assault arrest,
- husband of a PS/IS 217 teacher assaulted outside the school with a knife,
- man arrested with a loaded gun on Main Street,
- arson set in Roosevelt Landings AVAC garbage room
- Assault incident involving a group of juveniles harassing an adult at Blackwell Basketball court
And there were other apparently bogus claims.
Consistent with “Mr. Haynes’s 10 Point Plan,” Brown said, there are bicycle patrols from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day” on the Promenades. I can’t speak for everyone else, but I’m around the promenades almost every day and have never seen one.
When an audience member asked for help in stopping package thefts in Roosevelt Landings, he blew them off. “Chief Brown said he did not think the thefts occurred as often as some residents do,” the Roosevelt Islander reported.
And that brings us full circle with the Community Engagement evasions. If you don’t report the crimes or reject residents’ claims, you can look brilliant.
When crimes are scrubbed from public presentations, should Chief Kevin Brown disappear too?