At the Police Liaison Committee meeting last week, members reviewed the crime statistics in the Gayborhood with input from the new LGBT police liaison, while they bid farewell to the longtime police LGBT point person.
Chief Inspector James Tiano, who has served as the liaison between the police department and the LGBT community for the last 12 years, retiring at the end of the month. His duties will be taken over by Stephen Johnson, deputy commissioner of Homeland Security and Domestic Preparedness, who is moving to the Office of Professional Responsibility in the next few weeks.
“If I was to pick anybody to play my part, it would be him,” Tiano said of his successor at the meeting. “He’s a great cop, and he’s very sensitive to all communities. He really knows his way around.”
At his first committee meeting, Johnson discussed the ongoing prostitution and drug problems in the area, as well as the robbery and burglary issues.
While the spate of recent robberies and burglaries did not involve any weapons and resulted in minimal injuries, many allegedly were committed by repeat offenders.
Sixth District Sgt. LaRose noted that when repeat offenders come through the system, the police captain usually notifies the district attorney’s office to request a higher bail — but it’s not always granted.
Johnson suggested that one way to reduce the number of repeat offenders out on the street is to institute a notification system, so that committeemembers and other LGBT community members are aware of and attend judicial proceedings for those suspects.
“Sometimes with the less-dire offenses, you need community support for what’s being done, to support the arrest and the seriousness of the transgression. In the overall course of events, while breaking into a vehicle isn’t comparable to murder or a major robbery, it’s detrimental to the quality of life, and the people who live in the community suffer,” Johnson said.
“And that’s something the judicial people need to know,” the new liaison added. “We need to get people in the courtroom and have a packed house for the hearings to show the judge that this is something the community’s not going to tolerate. Sometimes when they sentence in a vacuum, they sentence leniently, because overall it doesn’t look like that serious of a transgression, but for anyone who’s come out in the morning and seen glass where their window used to be, it is serious.”
Tiano noted that the broken glass has a much wider impact than many residents realize.
“If you go out to go to work in the morning and see your window’s broken, probably your insurance doesn’t cover it and then you have to take the whole day off to deal with it. And then if they took something out of your car, you have to pay for that, or suppose the person lives elsewhere and comes into the city. They’re not coming back,” Tiano said. “What can this do to tourism, to business? This is more serious than a lot of people think because of what it affects.”
Tiano stressed that individuals living, working or visiting the area need to be conscious of locking their vehicles and ensuring that all their personal items — like GPS systems, gym bags or even loose change — are hidden.
The police recently instituted the new Patrol Service Area system, which allows officers to focus on one specific area instead of being spread throughout the entire district.
LaRose noted that Lt. Rick Lanzetta, the head of the PSA that encompasses the Gayborhood, reinstituted the former plan of having a beat officer patrol the neighborhood on foot. LaRose noted that the officer, who has access to a car parked in the area, typically focuses on the hours after midnight, as that’s when most criminal activity takes place.
“We’re going to have more foot patrol in the area and also going to be doing a lot more narcotics work and prostitution surveillance in the area,” LaRose said. “There’s myriad things we’re going to be doing because now that summer’s here, there are going to be a lot more people out.”
In addition to addressing the security issues, the committeemembers also looked at organizational plans.
The committee voted to elected member Fred Bostwick to the previously vacant treasurer post.
Committeemember and Woody’s owner Michael Weiss donated $500 on behalf of the bar to the agency’s budget, which will be used to purchase items the committee will give out at this fall’s OutFest.