Volume 20, Number 51 | THE NEWSPAPER OF LOWER MANHATTAN | MAY 2 - 8, 2008

Downtown Express photos by Tequila Minsky

Protecting Broadway shoppers

The “Broadway Initiative,” a joint operation by Police Precincts 1, 5, 6 and 9, to reduce crime on the shopper-laden Broadway corridor of Soho, Chinatown, and the East and West Villages was in full force last Thursday.

Lt. Chin of the First Precinct was coordinator of operations, explaining, “In this area, there’s been a big spike in grand larceny and pick pocketing.”

Mixed in the crowd of real shoppers were undercover officers looking to catch criminals.

With the valuable Euro giving many tourists major shopping power, this stretch of Broadway sidewalk, especially between Houston and Broome is particularly crowded, and distracted tourists are easy marks. An imposing mobile unit, the Command Center Truck has been parked on the east side of Broadway just below Prince for just over a month, a police scooter and patrol car in close proximity, usually with a couple uniformed cops in sight.

With so many foreign tourists, Chin said “our plain-clothes cops are bilingual, speaking Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, French, and Italian and there is a participating K-9 unit,” he said. Speaking of how oblivious they can be, he elaborated telling how some tourists put their bags and pocketbooks down on the sidewalk when they’re taking a picture. “We’re pro-active. We have a crime prevention officer, Michael O’Neal, in uniform. He walks around and hands out flyers and talks to tourists, tells them when their bags are open and about how not to be a victim,” Chin said.

Chin said since the operation began there has been a 40% drop in crime.

-- Tequila Minsky




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