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.”
Venice went over the past month’s crime statistics, saying violent crime and property crimes were down, while grand larcenies were up (compared with the previous month). As you can see from the most recent CompStat report, murders have jumped in the 7th Precinct — there have been five so far this year, as opposed to one in all of 2010.
There was some discussion at the meeting about an incident that occurred at last month’s National Night Out event on Stanton Street. As Deputy Inspector Barry was speaking, officers caught up with a suspect fleeing the scene of a stabbing one block away. Her remarks were briefly interrupted. Residents praised the 7th Precinct’s officers for dealing with the situation so quickly (six other suspects were arrested moments earlier).
The monthly Community Council meetings are usually attended by several bar owners — and this week was no exception. There was some curiosity about the new commanding officer’s perspective on the precinct’s controversial nightlife crackdown.
Venice did not directly address the crackdown, which has been overseen by Captain David Miller, the number two officer in the 7th. However, in speaking about theft of personal items inside bars (an ongoing issue), he said the following: “I understand this is a flourishing community where the bars and restaurants, in the last few years, from what I’ve been told, the neighborhood has really changed, there are a lot of places opening.”
He went on to say that increased crowds inside the neighborhood’s nightlife establishments create more opportunities for thieves and that the precinct is continuing to work with bar owners to deal with the problem.
Throughout the evening, Community Council members and other residents gave Venice a warm welcome and wished him well in his new assignment.