Last week, the ongoing conversation about the Lower East Side’s over-saturated nightlife scene played out at the 7th Precinct’s Community Council meeting.
At last night’s community council meeting, Captain Peter Venice touted the latest CompStat figures, which show that, so far this year, crime is down 11% in the 7th Precinct compared with 2012. But he also briefed residents on an incident that occurred Tuesday evening. According to Venice, shots rang out near the Rutgers public housing complex at around 9:30 p.m. The address he gave was 45 Rutgers St., at Madison Street. According to Venice, about six shots were fired. No one was hurt. Police have not located the shooter; they’re interviewing witnesses and going over surveillance video from the area. Last December, there was another shooting incident outside a different Rutgers building.
Captain David Miller, the executive officer at the 7th Precinct, was recently promoted and is moving on from his post as second in command of the Lower East Side station. We’re told he starts tomorrow as the new commanding officer of the 10th Precinct, which covers Chelsea and part of Hell’s Kitchen. DNA Info reports the promotion is one of several moves made by Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Miller replaces Deputy Inspector Elisa Cokkinos, who’s being shifted to the 6th Precinct (Soho, the Village).
Miller earned both praise and criticism on the Lower East Side for a crackdown targeting underage drinking and other offenses at neighborhood bars and clubs. Quite a few nightlife venues were shut down during his tenure. The crackdown peaked in 2011, but undercover operations are still continuing and have resulted in several recent civil court cases.
Captain Peter Venice remains the commanding officer of the 7th Precinct. The next opportunity for the public to hear from him will be this coming Wednesday, May 8, during the monthly community council meeting. It takes place at 7:30 p.m., at the station house, located at 19 Pitt St. (Delancey).
Officers from the 7th Precinct visited 151 Bar on Rivington Street last night to deliver a restraining order to owner Francine Marchese. The city has filed a civil suit accusing the divey nightlife spot of selling liquor to underage auxiliary police officers. According to the complaint, an undercover officer was served beer and/or hard liquor on three occasions since last fall (September 16, December 10, January 24). 151 was not shut down, but cops slapped a restraining order notice on the front door.
Marchese and various partners run 151, as well as St. Jerome’s at 155 Rivington and Welcome to the Johnson’s at 123 Rivington Street. Welcome to the Johnson’s was shut down in 2011 as part of a widespread nightlife crackdown by the 7th Precinct. There has been an enforcement lull in the past year, but the precinct has now refocused on the crackdown. Lolita at 266 Broome Street and PKNY at 49 Essex Street were targeted last week.
It was a busy night for the NYPD on the Lower East Side. As we already reported, the 7th Precinct delivered a restraining order to Lolita, the bar at 266 Broome Street. The business now faces a civil lawsuit for alleged underage drinking violations. Cops were also on the scene at PKNY, the artisanal tiki bar at 49 Essex Street.
We’re told PKNY was not forced to shut down, but its owners do have an upcoming court date to answer the city’s charges. The violations occurred during visits by undercover auxiliary police officers. City attorneys will likely ask the owners to beef up security and screening for underage drinkers in exchange for dropping the suit.
The bar opened as “Painkiller,” three years ago and later changed its name to PKNY due to a lawsuit. The liquor license is listed on the State Liquor Authority’s web site under the names Richard Boccato and Sasha Petraske (the info may be outdated; Petraske reportedly sold his interest at 49 Essex long ago). We contacted Boccato this morning for comment. No word yet.
Valentine’s Day was not sweet for at least one Lower East Side nightlife establishment. The 7th Precinct paid a visit to Lolita Bar at 266 Broome Street last night. You can see the results; a restraining order notice was slapped on the door. The city has filed a civil suit alleging underage drinking at the low-key LES hangout.
According to documents, underage patrons, undercover auxiliary police officers, were served on several occasions beginning last fall. The city filed the case in State Supreme Court; a hearing is anticipated next Tuesday, February 19. A short time ago, Matt Friedlander, the bar’s general manager, told us Lolita was not closed down last night and they’ll be open as usual this evening.
Community activists, politicos and local residents came to the Vladeck Houses on Henry Street last night for National Night Out, an event intended to improve relationships with neighborhood police precincts. 7th Precinct Commanding Officer Peter Venice and Captain David Miller were there, along with officials from PSA 4, the housing bureau responsible for the Lower East Side’s public housing developments.
City Council members Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez, Comptroller John Liu and Community Board 3 Chair Gigi Li made the rounds. There was food, a petting zoo, dunking tank and other activities. In past years, the 7th Precinct and PSA 4 have held separate events but a decision was made to join forces this year. Click through for a few more photos.
Temple of Ankh, the hookah bar at 58 Clinton Street, is dealing with more legal troubles this week. Back in January, the NYPD closed the establishment after state regulators accused owner Wahed Shenouda of violating workers’ compensation laws. Those charges were later dropped. This past weekend, the 7th Precinct was back at Temple of Ankh, after obtaining a temporary restraining order in civil court.
Yesterday the NYPD released end-of-year statistics showing crime was up slightly overall in New York City in 2011 (0.2% through December 18). There have been 490 homicides, down 5.6% from 2010.
WNYC noted that the crime picture varies greatly precinct by precinct. For example, in the 7th Precinct (which covers the Lower East Side below Houston Street and east of Allen) murders jumped from one in 2010 to five this year. On the other hand, there was only one homicide in the 9th Precinct (East Village) this year, as opposed to four in 2010.
What about other crime categories? In the 7th this year, there have been 14 rapes (there were 10 in 2010), 124 robberies (128 in 2010), 112 felony assaults (122 in 2010), 78 burglaries (96 in 2010) and 298 grand larcenies (271 in 2010).
In the 5th Precinct, there have been no murders this year, 11 rapes (one more than 2010), 119 robberies (98 in 2010), 106 felony assaults (129 in 2010), 114 burglaries (121 in 2010) and 509 grand larcenies (559 in 2010).
All of the stats are available on the NYPD’s web site.
The NYPD’s monthly “community council meetings” are in all honestly not generally the most newsworthy events in the world. But last week’s 7th Precinct gathering was actually pretty informative, although the most relevant details about crime in the neighborhood were made apparent in a fairly roundabout way.
The news came by way of the regular “police officer of the month awards,” given by Captain Peter Venice, the precinct’s commanding officer, to cops who have gone “above and beyond the call of duty.” The awards were presented to police officers Jeffrey Millenbach, Steven Stiller, Paul Pedersen, Brian Little and Sergeant Stephen Spataro. In one way or another, they were all involved in arrests for gun-related charges in recent weeks.
The 7th Precinct Community Council met for the first time Wednesday night since Captain Peter Venice took over as commanding officer. He’s succeeds Deputy Inspector Nancy Barry, who was reassigned.
Venice, formerly of the 70th Precinct in Flatbush, said he’s been impressed by what he’s seen in the 7th so far. “This is a very safe community,” he told residents gathered in the station house. “It’s a great place to work, a great place to live. I just hope to make it even better.”
Tomorrow night is your first chance to (formally) meet Peter Venice, the new commander of the 7th Precinct. It’s the first Community Council meeting since he took over for Deputy Inspector Nancy Barry, who was reassigned uptown.
The meeting takes place at 7:30 p.m. at the station house, located at 19 Pitt Street (Delancey). There’s usually an opportunity at some point in the meeting for residents to ask questions. In recent months, the precinct’s nightlife crackdown has been a big topic of conversation. This time around, there may be some questions about another neighborhood hot topic, traffic enforcement on Delancey Street.
As we reported a short time ago, another bar was caught up in the Lower East Side nightlife crackdown this evening. Shortly after 10 p.m., officers from the 7th Precinct showed up at White Slab Palace, the Swedish restaurant/drinking destination at 77 Delancey Street. Acting on a court order, they instructed owner Annika Sundvik to close the bar down.
Many other neighborhood nightlife establishments have been shuttered for underage drinking violations. The White Slab Palace case is apparently a little different. Several months ago, the State Liquor Authority learned that the bar was operating without a liquor permit. Since that time, Sundovik got her license reinstated. But the court proceedings had already been set in motion and – finally – this week the judge gave the NYPD the go-ahead to close the bar.
Tonight, quite a few customers, who were inside when police arrived, gathered on the sidewalk, watching through the bar’s big glass windows as the place was being shut down. Some of them complained about the closure, saying White Slab Palace is a pretty low key place — not a raucous club. Captain David Miller, who’s overseeing the precinct’s nightlife crackdown, stood outside, explaining to passersby what was happening.
In June, the SLA fined the bar $500 (the state’s antiquated computer system does not specify why the penalty was imposed). White Slab Palace is still fending off a civil lawsuit from a woman who was hit in the head by a moosehead that came off the wall during a night of partying in 2009. Tonight one officer noted that the windows along Delancey Street were shattered long ago but Sundovik has not gotten around to repairing the damage.
She’ll presumably be in court next week, trying to get her bar reopened. We’ll follow-up.