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Residents Ask Tough Questions of Police Captain

Captain Donald Powers and Jimmy Van Bramer

May 2, 2012 By Christian Murray

Sunnyside and Woodside residents fired a volley of complaints against the captain of the 108th police precinct on Monday night, claiming that the cops are too slow to respond to calls, that there is a lack of a police presence in the neighborhood and that the area is no longer safe.

Captain Donald Powers, the head of the 108th police precinct, told 130 residents at All Saints Church in Sunnyside that the neighborhood remains safe, despite the precinct being stretched in terms of manpower. He said that when the cops are slow to respond to 911 calls, it’s often because there are other crimes in progress where a greater danger is present.

The public meeting with the captain was organized by Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s office. Residents were free to ask questions concerning recent crime and community safety.

Powers tried to reassure the attendees through the use of statistics. He said that the number of reported crimes in the precinct—which covers Sunnyside, Woodside, part of Maspeth and LIC—is down about 80 percent from 1993 levels. For example, he said, in 1993 there were 1,026 robberies, compared to 155 in 2011. Meanwhile, the number of crimes reported is up just 1% this year, compared to the same time period in 2011.

“We don’t have a lot of cops, but we know who the bad guys are in this neighborhood [precinct],” Powers said, referring to felons who are out on probation or are known recidivists. “It’s like small town policing.”

But many residents were not convinced that these are safe times. The police have not made an arrest following the groping incident on the morning of April 8 in Sunnyside Gardens. Furthermore, there were 3 burglaries in Sunnyside Gardens in the past 28 days and two grand larcenies. However, the problem with tire & rim thefts appears to have abated, with none reported in Sunnyside in the past month.

The man believed to be responsible for three armed robberies near 50th Ave (44th to 46th Streets) in Woodside last month has yet to be apprehended, although the police have leads. The alleged perpetrator took his victims at gunpoint to an ATM machine at a bodega and demanded cash.

One attendee, who said she was assaulted at P.S.150 (43rd Ave. and 42nd Street) last year, bemoaned the fact that it took the police 52 minutes to arrive after she reported the incident. She kept repeating: “52 minutes it took them.”

Powers said the police have a priority list that kicks into place following each 911 call. When someone’s life is a risk, that’s the first priority, he said – and then the police work down the list. “Whatever cops I have are out there [in the precinct]. It shouldn’t take 52 minutes…but it doesn’t mean they are out having lunch.”

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said that he has written a letter to police commissioner Raymond Kelly urging the department to send more cops to the precinct. Powers said he is already expecting 8 more cops to join the precinct shortly.

“I never see patrol cars,” another woman claimed, alleging that Sunnyside is short changed in terms of a police presence. Powers said that the entire 5.1 sq mile precinct is divided into 12 sectors and each sector is patrolled equally. However, he did add, that 911 calls will often divert patrol cars away from an area when a significant crime occurs elsewhere.

“We get a lot of 911 calls out to Woodside,” he said, which often results in cars being sent from their sectors to the incident.

One Sunnyside Gardens resident complained that when she called the community affairs office at the 108 precinct the phone rang 40 to 50 times without answer. She said that someone had been stealing hubcaps in the neighborhood and she wanted the precinct to know. Powers said a better option is to call 311 and get the complaint filed and time stamped.

One woman, who has a baby, wondered how she should walk along 50th Avenue in Woodside, where the latest armed robberies have been occurring during daylight hours, without being a target. Powers told her to stay alert and avoid being distracted by cell/smart phones.

Powers was asked whether the police fudged crime reports to generate better crime statistics. One couple, whose house was almost broken into, said that the police wrote up the crime as “criminal mischief” despite there being evidence of an attempted burglary. “Our screen doors were slashed,” the couple said.

Powers debunked the claims that the crime statistics were manipulated. “There is no conspiracy to hide crimes,” adding that “at times crimes will be upgraded or downgraded once more of the facts are known.” He said he was unable to speak of the particular incident pertaining to the attempted break in without knowing all the facts.

Meanwhile, Van Bramer said that he has allocated $200,000 of city funds to be spent on the installation of surveillance cameras. He said that he and Powers have yet to determine where they would be located.


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Funny how the 108 has man power to send to my 60 year old mother-in-laws house to check if she was there after a domestic issue. Really? Someone should connect the dots and see how the Queens DA has little puppet strings pulling local cops to do this BS work. Is that why you want more cops hired? So they can take the safe calls going to old peoples homes while a block away real drug dealers and murders are hiding. Gotta love it.


Pretty sure they’re all over 18 now.

Get a Life and NRO, can you substantiate any of your claims please? What kind of felonies are they committing? And how have they managed to get away with all these “felonies” exactly? Sounds like a lot of hogwash

I can’t imagine in any universe parents “putting up” with their kids committing felonies.

Susan (one of two)

What’s the age range of these kids on 46th? I’m just curious…I’m guessing if they get past age 18 and get caught doing something illegal, they might start incurring real penalties.


I also know the kids on 46th – they are sociopaths who are gaming the system and they are committing serious crimes. They hide behind their parents who are professionals. My kid also had a run in with them and told me some very serious stories about them. The parents should be locked up.

Get a Life

Sunnysider, some of those kids are doing more than smoking pot. They have committed felonies – and the parents either look the other way or are covering up for them. I used to let one of my kids hang out with them and he gave me an earful. It was shocking. And some of them have been busted. the Community Police know all about them. They will end up in Rikers eventually.

cops on 7 train platform

If you really want to see a cop in uniform around here, there are always uniforms on the 7 train platforms @ 33rd $ 40th right around the time kids get out of school.


Raquel, you are the epitome of paranoid. If there was one minor crime committed during the whole year you would still find something to complain about.

The last time I saw those “druggy kids” you’re talking about was almost a year ago. Can you tell me where they frequently hang out so I can go and confirm that they even still live here? And I’ve met the guys father… he seems like an decent, well-spoken guy.

I’m not saying they don’t sell drugs, but I’m guessing they smoke 10 times more marijuana than they actually sell, otherwise they would have been busted a long time ago. Almost everyone who lives here knows about them and they still haven’t been comprehended by the police… that should tell you that whatever they’re doing is probably trivial at best

Sunnyside is much better now than it used to be. I feel at risk here maybe once or twice a year. The south side is definitely more sketchier the further down you go, but it’s still not that bad compared to other neighborhoods around the city


@ justlooking

Did not know that bloomberg was hiring “brownies”. So the hiring of more “brownies” is the reason for increase in crime. Where is your proof of that?


I blame Bloomberg, totally. If the statistics are being fudged, it’s because he puts the pressure on for the cops to do that. It’s a well-known fact. And of course he’s more focused on giving tickets than safety.

Rick Duro

One other thing on the future SUDS dog run/improvement of Lodati Park.

We went through all the proper channels to get this done, and it has taken the better part of as decade to accomplish this.

First we had to get 1000+ signatures from locals in favor of such an endeavor.

We also had to show that we were a serious, organized group. We have raised thousands of dollars for sick dogs in our neighborhood, rescued countless dogs/cats and gotten them adopted, organized searches for lost pets, had ‘pick up the poop’ days to try and get the minority of people who DON’T pick up to do so and we have marched in every St Pat’s For ALL Parade except the first one.

Then we had to get approval from both the Parks Dept and Community Board #2. Originally, we got approval in 2006, a 35-4 vote. As it took so long for the project to get moving and for us to find the $, we had to go through a 2nd round of voting with the CB#2, where the project was approved unanimously in June of 2011.

The monies, that have already been allocated to the project, were 2011 funds and they are hoping to start construction soon.

SUDS main goal all along was a dog run, but, we also wanted to try to get enough $ to fix up THE WHOLE park, which, with Councilman Van Bramer and Borough President Helen Marshall’s help we were able to accomplish.

I completely agree with you on not tolerating low level crime. SUDS has helped to make that park a lot safer. We push the people who use the park to behave as proper citizens of our great city. We are not afraid to call people out for leaving their trash, urinating all over the park, etc. Who is going to commit a crime in a park in the evening when there are 20 adults around with their mutts? Exactly. Also, as I stated in my last letter, there will be no cost to the city for upkeep, that comes from us, unless, of course, it is something structural (like a wall/fence collapse/pipe bursting/etc.) that would not only affect the run, but the rest of the park.



@Oppressed Masses

Perhaps could create an extra page on this website where folks can post links of their uploaded videos from youtube – I imagine that would be easy enough?

Oppressed Masses

@Krissi, Actually a neighborhood watch that utilizes tech devices most of us routinely carry would be a way to address some of the low life situations that the police in reality can’t address, like the street level drug transactions and use that several people mentioned. Most people carry a cell phone with camera or video capability. I for one would be willing to join with others to photograph suspicious activity like youngsters sitting in a car smoking pot or dealing drugs and providing same to the PD. People in the neighborhood know where this stuff is happening. To my knowledge, there is nothing illegal about photographing suspicious; Councilmember Van Bramer said that has secured $200,000 to be used for street surveillance cameras. Captain Powers said that catching a person committing quality of life crimes is how those same people who grope females and run away are eventually caught. I’m a firm believer that if a community does not tolerate low level crime, the resulting safe environment deters bad actors from engaging in more serious crimes, but if low level crime is accepted and there are no consequences, the atmosphere becomes one where criminals sense they can get away with breaking into someone’s house. Perhaps the Councilmember Van Bramer can use some of the $200,000 to help organize or coordinate such a neighborhood watch effort. This could even help maintain the new dog run park as a safe place and keep everyone happy.

Just Looking

I heard from a cop that Bloomberg cut regular police in order to hire what we used to call “Brownies.” I haven’t seen the statistics myself, but I put it out there for discussion if anyone has any other information. Given that he is one of the richest businessmen in the world, I wouldn’t doubt that he would increase financial inflow and decrease outflow. To him profit is the bottom line.

The fact that the 108th has one incoming line is perhaps a canny business move. If they don’t have the personnel to deal with crime, the best thing to do is reduce the ability of people to report crime. After all, if the station had to report that they didn’t have enough personnel to respond to the number of calls, he might be under pressure to assign more cops to chase criminals. Criminals cost the city money, you have to pay the cops, keep the jail going, feed them, etc., etc., It is much more profitable to having police personnel chase forgetful car owners for alternate side or people running into the deli for a cup of coffee, or people putting money in the muni meter. C’mon. Profits are the bottom line, not people and their lives. He can’t even see people, to him they are either black or red marks on his books, nothing else.

Can you imagine him running a Bloomberg Inc. office with one incoming phone line? The thought would have been absurd a hundred years ago, never mind today. It’s an excuse on par with “The dog ate my homework.”


Cop levels in this city are apparently at their lowest level since 9/11. No wonder they are having issues with crime, but the tough economy can’t be helping.

More surveillance cameras are always a good idea, let’s get those up ASAP.


Good comments and I agree that Bloomberg’s cutting the police force has been terrible. He is obsessed with smoking and transfat. Nanny Bloomberg.

Sunny Skies

Thank you Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer for organizing this important community dialogue on neighborhood crime awareness. Hope it’s the first of many that will build upon the last discussion. Can’t let the bad seeds get a toe hold in our backyard. We’re with you all the way.



Easier to thread a cow through a needle hole than meet a cop walking a sunnyside beat.



No doubt, the problem starts up top at the mayoral level. Maybe if Bloomberg spent less time thinking of new ways to hassle smokers and lecturing people about what they should eat and drink, he’d be more focused on fighting crime.

I’d rather the city hire a couple extra cops than plaster the subways with posters to tell people soda is bad for you. No kidding! Duh.


I was at the meeting. I thought Captain Powers provided several good answers and appears to be doing the best he can. I really came to the conclusion that the problem is the lack of cops and the blame lies with Bloomberg.


Oppressed Masses

I couldn’t have said it better myself. I was there too, and although I understand victims being very upset, I found that there was not much constructive criticism or discussion from the group. Yelling at Captain Powers is not going to help anything. What we should have covered is how to create a neighborhood watch or to pressure City Hall into giving us more police resources.


A few days ago this site posted photos of of red tailed hawk spotted in Sunnyside. Has anyone seen or spotted a cop walking a beat in Sunnyside recently? That’s an even rarer sight, take a picture if you see one!


I am glad people complained about the activity on 46th Street between Skillman and 39th Avenue. The joke of course, is that at least one parent of these druggy kids was sitting there and left before the real complaints began. – about his kids and their friends The 108th will take complaints but investigations . . . eeeh. Bring back Lt. Wachter. He was very proactive. BTW: it would be great if the head of the detective squad would attend the Precinct Council meetings. I imagine what some people would like to say to him.

P & B

Comparing the dog run to getting telephone lines at the police precinct, wow. The city allocates money to all the various departments. The money for the parks department wouldn’t be turned around and used for the police department, it would have gone to a different park. We have lobbied to get this park renovated for ten years. We initially drew up our own plans, attended the city meetings, got the required signatures etc. This park when done will only better our community. It required the constant committment of many people to finally get the approval of this park( not just dog run). Trust me, the city didn’t say Sunnyside needs a dog run. My advice if you want another a phone line for the precinct then start your lobbying efforts to the appropriate people.

Time's Up

“Maybe when the trust fund brats at occupy wall street decide to look for work then maybe the NYPD can dedicate a few more cops to Sunnyside.”


Robert Baratheon

The whole city is filled liars, backstabbers, and money grubbers. We need to uphold the King’s peace!

Oppressed Masses

Mr. Duro, you make several good points, certainly worthy of public discussion. However, the cost of the dog run remains a mystery. And my main complaint is with the hackneyed reporting by the Sunnyside Post on this meeting with the usual “the cops are doing a lousy job” angle, omitting any mention of other points and in particular comments by several people questioning the best use of public monies.


Maybe when the trust fund brats at occupy wall street decide to look for work then maybe the NYPD can dedicate a few more cops to Sunnyside.

Rick Duro

$ was allocated to fix up the dilapidated lower park on Skillman, the entire park, not just to add a dog run. The park is a mess, needing to be completely repaired. SUDS has helped clean that park, take care of it, and kept out the ne’erdowells on a nightly basis for almost the last 10 years. We have helped to keep that entire area safe/clean for quite some time. Sadly, we can’t be in there during the day, and that is when the park is abused with people getting wasted, urinating, gambling and leaving their garbage everywhere. We clean as much of it up as possible, especially on a Sunday night. I have been going to the park most evenings for the last 10 years, and as long as we have been in there there has never been a single crime committed in/around that park, to my knowledge. I would think our presence helps somewhat.

SUDS helped secure these funds, with the help of Mr. Van Bramer and Borough President Helen Marshall. It’s something that will only add to our wonderful neighborhood. We have a lot of people with dogs and no safe place to take them, the $ is being put to good use. SUDS has been a great asset to Sunnyside and deserves a place to call its own.

Complaining about the lack of policing and telephone lines and blaming the dog run is completely ridiculous. You can blame Bloomberg for that. The monies were allocated to the parks dept to fix up the park, which is in terrible shape-surface, walls, lighting, etc.

Cost for the upkeep of the run would be minimal and much of it would be covered via fundraising by SUDS, this is how it is for most dog runs. We will have very minimal costs, especially considering our surface will not be something that needs frequent replacing (wood chips, gravel, etc). If we were using those kinds of surfaces, even that cost would have to be covered by SUDS.

I would like to say that anytime I have had to call the 108th I have been able to get through w/o a problem. I frequently see police cars crusing our neighborhood and I am out 4-5 times a day on walks.

if you have other questions about the dog run feel free to contact me anytime.

Rick Duro


PS. as far as crime statistics go, there have been way too many instances of police not wanting to file reports when incidents occur that I don’t have a lot of confidence in these statistics.

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”

– Mark Twain


Maybe if people call the police after a mugging or burglary and tell them there is a car parked illegally that they can give a ticket to, they’ll be there like greased lightning.

Oppressed Masses

I am a long time resident of Sunnyside Gardens. I attended the entire meeting with Councilmember Van Bramer and Police Captain Powers, which lasted approximately 2 ½ hours. I am and never have been a member of the NYPD and have no relatives who are police officers. The Sunnyside Post account of this meeting is biased and distorted.

While there were many complaints voiced, a number of people complimented the local police department for their work, but none of the compliments are reported in the above column nor the fact that Captain Powers gave 2 ½ hours of his time to respond to every question that anyone at the meeting had. It’s wrong to say that Captain Powers “tried to reassure the audience with statistics” when Captain Powers made clear at the meeting the statistical information was recited to provide perspective on the current level of crime compared with different points in time in the past and with other precincts in Queens.

While there were several complaints about the extended time it took to answer calls made to the precinct, the above article leaves out Captain Powers’ explanation that there is only one phone line into the precinct and when the line is in use, the second caller will hear the phone ring and ring. At the same time, other people at the meeting reported that their calls were answered quickly and the precinct responded to their home quickly, but none of that information made it to the above article.

There are many other examples of bias by omission and commission in the Post article, but perhaps the most glaring is leaving out a very relevant question by an audience member regarding appropriate allocation of limited resources, referring to money being spent on a dog run in the renovation of the park at the corner of 43rd Street and Skillman Avenue. While Councilmember Van Bramer disabused the resident’s belief that $500,000 was being spent on the dog run, Van Bramer did not provide the amount that the dog run will cost to build nor the annual expense to upkeep the dog run. The resident’s point that in this time of limited resources, the community as a whole may benefit greater if the monies planned for the dog run were used instead to put a second or third telephone line into the 108 Pct. and thereby improve the public’s ability to communicate with their local police, was not addressed by Councilmember Van Bramer and is not mentioned in the above article. Perhaps if the Sunnyside Post wanted to provide a real service in using the power of the press to address an important community concern, it will report on the cost to construct the dog run and maintain it annually and how those costs compare with providing improved telephone communications (and maybe even on line reporting capability) for the 108 Precinct.


Chase bank robbery, gropings, tire thefts, break-ins, burglaries, keyed cars, prostitutes at night, Chica chica cards on the streets, weed dealers who deliver to apartments….

What is the difference between Sunnyside and the inner city ?
A) No stop and frisks.
B) No police watch towers at troublesome streets.
C) No police cars parked permanently flashing their lights into your bedroom all
night long.
D) No Beat cops walking the streets.
E) All of the above.


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