By Elliot Moses
The Rockaway Citizens Safety Patrol held its first annual dinner earlier this month at the Young Israel of Wavecrest and Bayswater. The dinner was in honor of the men and women of the patrol who drive the streets of Rockaway at all hours of the night serving as an extra set of eyes and ears of the NYPD.
Since its formation in November, the RCSP has been responsible for 15 arrests, responded to missing children reports, and has assisted in getting 2 handguns off the streets. Today, the patrol has over 70 members and at least one shift every night, 7 days a week.
Recently, the RCSP expanded its patrols into Far Rockaway proper and is currently recruiting residents to join. Founder and Director Laizer Shtundel said “One of the benefits of having a citizens patrol is that we know our neighbors and we know what is out of the ordinary. If I see a stranger in a car that I know belongs to my neighbor, I do not have to think twice about calling the police. This is why we encourage all residents of Far Rockaway to join the RCSP and patrol their own community.”
For their hard work and effort, Monday night highlighted an appreciation that the community has towards the men and women of the patrol. To show their support, ranking members of the NYPD and local and state politicians dropped by. In attendance were Deputy Chief of Queens Steve Silks, ESU, the anti-crime division of the 101st police precinct, ranking members of community affairs of the NYPD, NYS Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, and NYC Councilman James Sanders.
After the dinner, RCSP patrolman Shmuli Russell asked Chief Silks to visit Avrumi Wolodarsky who wanted to come by and show his support, but was homebound due to health problems. Members of the RCSP got to see a kind and compassionate face of the NYPD as the chief gave Avrumi a real police hat.
Director of Communications for the RCSP Elkana Adelman said, “Monday night was not about the patrol, or the brass, or the politician, but rather about our community.” And it truly was a community event. “As you were able to see Monday night, one of our goals for this patrol is to be as diverse as the Rockaway Peninsula is.” Adelman added.
When asked about when residents of Far Rockaway can expect patrols in their neighborhood, Shtundel responded, “We have already started. When members of the Far Rockaway community originally approached us, we made it quite clear that the best service is self service. We already have about 10 members from our Far Rockaway division, but to keep the patrols consistent and effective, we are going to need more volunteers,” he added.
The RCSP also sends out security alert e-mails to anyone that wants to sign up. Additionally, they collect and track crime statistics so that local police can deploy coverage to high priority areas. As policing these days is based on data, this has become a crucial and effective way that the RCSP is able to increase police presence in the community.
To join the patrol, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 917-RCSP306. For a tax deductible donation, call 917-RCSP306. In case of emergency call 911 then 917-RCSP306.