Reacting to anxieties in the Crown Heights Jewish community following a spate of racial crime incidents, police moved Friday to beef up patrols in the neighborhood.
Assistant Chief Owen Monaghan, the commanding officer of Brooklyn South, along with Deputy Inspector George Fitzgibbon, the commander of the 71st Precinct with responsibility for Crown Heights, visited the neighborhood on Friday afternoon and assured several local Jewish media outlets that they were committed to stanching the hate incidents aggressively.
“All the measures we are taking go hand in hand with the community outreach we are doing, and most importantly, to increase the uniformed visibility in the entire area,” Monaghan told COLlive.com. “Those looking to do harm should know we are poised and ready to arrest anyone looking to do a crime or commit an act of hate.”
Crown Heights’ Jewish residents are increasingly nervous as an escalation in racial violence has enveloped the neighborhood since September, including three incidents in the past two weeks.
Police are said to have several strong leads in the case and are taking it seriously. They suspect that there is a single gang in a specific Crown Heights public school that conceived of a sick game called “knockout,” in which members go around punching Jews.
Fitzgibbon said that 22 additional cops were assigned to Jewish areas of the neighborhood, including 12 officers who will target specific hot spots during school dismissal times.
Meanwhile, detectives questioned hundreds of public-school children for information about the attacks, which the Hate Crimes Task Force is already investigating. They also released photos of several of the attackers and asked for the public’s help in identifying them.
Crownheights.info reported that police reached out to the Jewish Children’s Museum to arrange for non-Jewish children to tour the place in order to get a broader understanding of their Jewish neighbors.
Devorah Halberstam, the director of the museum, requested that the trips be geared toward struggling students who would benefit more from the awareness such a trip can engender.
“This should help to make people feel more safe,” Fitzgibbon said. “All these measures will hopefully make people think twice before doing a crime.”