114th refutes complaints of police misconduct
by Heather Senison
May 02, 2012 | 5064 views | 0 0 comments | 49 49 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Deputy Inspector Stephen Cirabisi was under fire at the 114th Precinct Council Meeting on Tuesday, April 24, from several civilians who said that officers responding to their 911 calls didn't take their issues seriously or were rude to them.

For example, Laura DiFrenza said an officer was rude to her when she called 911 because a man ran a red light, almost causing her serious injury.

“I don't know if they get training on respect, but this cop literally spoke to me like I was dirt on the street,” DiFrenza said.

She said the driver had a license from the Czech Republic and told the officer that the sun was in his eyes so he didn't see the red light, but the officer did not run his license in the Police Department system.

The officer scolded her for pulling the driver over, even though the man pulled over on his own accord, and told her that if she wants to do police work she should sign online and register to become a cop, she said.

“When I told [the officer] I just wanted to make sure this guy is able to drive because he almost killed me and ran a red light, he goes, 'well, you know you're going to die eventually,'” DiFrenza said. “I'm 28 years old and I know I'm going to die eventually, but there's no reason for a cop to speak to me like that.”

DiFrenza added that she did file a complaint with the Police Department's Civilian Review Board.

In response, Cirabisi said that officers cannot arrest someone for a traffic violation they did not witness.

During the meeting, he said crime in the 114th Precinct last month was down 13 percent, but up 10 percent from this time last year. He said the precinct got 10 new officers from the academy recently, but that the Police Department still has 7,000 less officers than it had 10 years ago, which may explain why civilians are dissatisfied with their work.

“I don't condone any of my officers speaking to the public unprofessionally and if they do, they'll get disciplined,” Cirabisi said.

In an interview after the meeting, Cirabisi said none of his officers are discouraged from writing reports to keep statistics low, an issue that's been recently reported in the media.

“If there's evidence of a crime being committed, they're supposed to make a report,” he said. “When there's times that the officers don't make a report, it's not because they're being directed not to take a report, it may be laziness on their part.”

Cirabisi said sometimes officers may feel rushed when responding to a call that isn't urgent because they want to be available to take calls for serious crimes in the area.

The 114th is one of the highest volume precincts in terms of 911 calls and violent crimes in Queens, he said.

“Sometimes the officers honestly are just being lazy by not wanting to do the extra work to take a report, unfortunately that happens,” Cirabisi repeated.

Barbara Lorinz, a Dutch Kills resident, said at the meeting that she had trouble convincing officers to file a report when she called in an attempted burglary.

A man rang her doorbell several times, hopped a fence into her backyard and ran off when she yelled at him, Lorinz said, but when she called the police, they told her they could only write a trespassing report that would not warrant a follow-up.

“They said that they wouldn't file the report because it would just be trespassing and nobody would follow it up,” she said. “I understand the police officers and I respect them and they should care more for the victims.”

She had to ask the officers three times to write the trespassing report, Lorinz said.

However, in an interview on Monday, April 30, Lorinz said officers from the 114th Precinct dropped off a copy of the report to her house, and she was waiting for a detective to come show her pictures of suspected burglars in the area.

“They are taking this more seriously now, since I attended the 114th Community Council meeting on Tuesday,” she said.

But a victim of an assault who spoke up at the meeting said in an interview on Wednesday, May 2nd that despite speaking with Cirabisi and other officers at the precinct, no one followed up with him.

He said officers refused to write a report when he called 911 for the assault on April 6th.

“When the police finally responded after an hour and half, they refused to write a report or do an investigation,” said John Cartselos, who owns Mr. Spiceman Inc., and was assaulted in front of his Long Island City place of business.

Cartselos said he also filed a complaint with the Civilian Review Board.

“They write down what they absolutely positively have to and whatever they can get away with not writing down, they don't,” he said, adding that the issue is a citywide problem and is not limited to the 114th.

Cirabisi said if a resident feels that officers did not handle a situation properly, they should come to the precinct, file a report with the Civilian Complaint Review Board, or come to a 114th Precinct Council meeting to discuss the situation.

The 114th Precinct Council meetings are held on the last Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. at Riccardo's by the Bridge at 21-01 24th Avenue in Astoria.

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