April 13, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
A public meeting that was planned to take place in Long Island City Thursday to address the alarming increase in crime is no longer going ahead.
The meeting was being organized by Johanna Carmona, who is running for the Assembly District 37 seat, with the express purpose to tackle the spike in crime in the neighborhood. It was planned to take place at Renew Queens, a community center located at 10-15 46th Rd., with the 108th Precinct Commander Lavonda Wise.
However, Carmona abruptly announced Tuesday—after promoting the event on social media—that the meeting was no longer going ahead following a request by the 108th Precinct. She did not provide a reason for the change in plans, nor did the NYPD.
Queens Post sources, however, said that the 108th Precinct did not want to participate in an event since it was being hosted by a political candidate. The cops want to avoid the perception that they support a candidate.
Carmona said her event would instead be merged with the precinct’s standard monthly meeting, which is held by the precinct each month to address community concerns. The meeting, which is scheduled for April 27, will take place in Long Island City in lieu of resident concerns as opposed to in Sunnyside where it typically is held.
The event is scheduled to take place at the New York Irish Center, located at 10-40 Jackson Ave.
The April 27 meeting will be hosted by the 108th Precinct Police Community Council and will be led by Deputy Inspector Lavonda Wise – along with the 108th Precinct’s Neighborhood Coordination Officers and Crime Prevention Unit.
The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. and Carmona will not be listed as an organizer, although she will be in attendance.
“I plan to be an active participant, listening and learning from community members,” Carmona said. “I invite my opponents to join me and engage with the community over their concerns. We all need to support our communities and advocate for a safer district.”
Carmona is running for the District 37 seat, along with Juan Ardila, Jim Magee and Brent O’Leary.
The rise in crime has shocked many residents and spurred Carmona to organize a public meeting in the first place.
Carmona said that while she was petitioning to get on the ballot, many residents told her they felt unsafe in the area and pointed to the vicious hammer attack at the Queens Plaza subway station in February as an example.
In the 108th precinct—which serves Long Island City, Sunnyside and Woodside—crime is up 42 percent for the year through April 3, compared to the same period a year ago, according to NYPD data. Robberies are up 108 percent, grand larceny is up 71 percent, while burglaries are up 16 percent.
Residents will still get a chance to ask questions and voice their concerns to the police on April 27, according to Diane Ballek, who is the president of the 108th Precinct Police Community Council
“This will be one meeting to address all the situations in the community,” said Ballek, who has served on the precinct council for 26 years.
Ballek said that council meetings are typically attended by around 50 people. She expects up to 100 participants to attend the April 27 gathering, given the heightened sense of concern among residents.
Separately, a private meeting between the 108th Precinct and the residents group LIC Community Action is going ahead on April 14. The group was established in 2020 to address crime along the waterfront and spearheaded fundraising initiatives to cover the costs of hiring private security to patrol the area.
The security team is set to make a return this year and the April 14 meeting will discuss how its guards will coordinate with police. Dept. of Transportation representatives will also be in attendance to come up with ways to curb speeding and bump up road safety in the neighborhood.