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Cop out: Police ignore civic’s plea for officer at meetings

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A neighborhood civic group is getting the cold shoulder from its local precinct.

Members of the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association say they have been pushing for the 61st Precinct to send a community affairs officer to its meetings to update the group on crime in Manhattan Beach, but the precinct isn’t responding to them — and that is making residents feel ignored.

“The community feels like there is a big disconnect between the police and the communities it serves,” said Al Smaldone, a member of the association.

The group sent a letter to the precinct a month ago requesting police representation, but hasn’t heard anything back, said member Michael Tropp.

Tropp attends the precinct’s community council meetings to bring crime news back to the civic, but Smaldone said the information is limited, and Tropp is not equipped to answer residents’ questions the way a police officer would be.

“He doesn’t know the inner workings of the police department,” Smaldone said.

The 61st Precinct regularly sent community affairs officers to the association’s meetings under the previous commanding officer, Georgios Mastrokostas, but that stopped when Captain John Chell took the helm in late 2012, Smaldone said.

Smaldone said he respects Chell’s command, but hopes for more engagement.

“I understand the captain has a different management style,” he said. “But if you have a community affairs division, it should be used to interact with the community.”

For now, the group will continue to send a liaison to the precinct’s community council meetings to glean information about local crime, but Smaldone said he and his neighbors would feel better getting reports directly from one of New York’s Finest.

“When a policeman speaks, there’s a certain level of comfort that people get,” he said.

The precinct did not respond to requests for comment.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.
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Reader Feedback

FRED from FLATBUSH says:
The 70th pct has great community affairs officers who atttend many meetings. They are known and respected by all. Detetive Scotto is a legend in the community.
May 9, 2014, 3:43 pm

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