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Bronx crime down, guns remain

Another year, another drop in Bronx crime. But borough leaders won’t celebrate, as gun violence and quality of life issues continue to trouble Bronx neighborhoods.

The borough had witnessed 108 murders in 2009 through Sunday, December 27, down 23 murders – 17.6 percent – compared to 2008 and 42.2 percent compared to 2001. Only felony assaults jumped in 2009. There were 4.7 percent more than in 2008.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg applauded a citywide drop in crime as “remarkable.” The Police Department reported fewer murders in 2009 than in any year since 1963, when records began. In a radio address on Sunday, January 3, Bloomberg praised police work in public housing developments and promised to combat crime perpetrated by and against young people.

Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. acknowledged the Police Department successes, but highlighted the hail of bullets that frightened Bronx residents and struck innocents Aisha Santiago, Sadie Mitchell and Vada Vasquez in late 2009.

“Although the statistics show that the overall crime rate is down…there are still too many shootings in our borough,” Diaz Jr. said.

The borough president pledged to work with the Police Department and others to rid the Bronx of illegal firearms. Bronx churches will host a second annual gun buyback event soon, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence campaigner and Mott Haven resident Gloria Cruz said.

Through December 27, crime had decreased 13.1 percent in the 40th Precinct, which includes Mott Haven. There had been 13 murders, compared to 14 in 2008. Although Cruz would rather see an independent body report Police Department statistics, she praised the 40th Precinct. Cruz attributed its success to a new security tower on E. 141st Street between Cypress and St. Ann’s avenues, more plainclothes police and Operation Impact police assigned to the neighborhood. Halloween was quiet in 2009, she said. On the other hand…

“Whenever you open the newspaper or turn on the TV you see crime,” Cruz said.

Crime had decreased 7.6 percent in the 49th Precinct. There had been seven murders through December 27, the same as in 2008. 49th Precinct Captain John Greeley praised his police.

“We did a phenomenal job [in 2009],” Greeley said. “The stats don’t lie.”

Although the 49th Precinct witnessed a burglary bump in 2009, rapes, robberies and auto thefts were each down more than 25 percent through December 27.

Crime in the 45th Precinct had increased 2.2 percent through December 27. The four-five witnessed a 32.8 percent jump in felony assaults and an 11.5 bump in burglaries. But Bob Bieder of the 45th Precinct Community Council thanked Deputy Inspector Dimitrios Roumeliotis. There had been only one murder in the “four-five” in 2009, compared to four in 2008.

“[Roumeliotis] has responded to our needs,” Bieder said.

Bieder commended the 45th Precinct for its work on City Island after a series of crimes there, and the Bronx Narcotics Unit for its work in Throggs Neck. Vandalism at Bicentennial Veterans Memorial Park in Edgewater Park was a persistent problem in 2009, he said.

Bieder, who owns a business on Castle Hill Avenue, had plenty of kudos for the 43rd Precinct, which increased its foot patrol on the corridor two months ago, made arrests and reached out to shopkeepers.

Reach reporter Daniel Beekman at 718 742-3383 or dbeekman@cnglocal.com

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