Joined by NYPD officers from the 103rd Precinct, elected officials and members of the Jamaican business community, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced the creation of the “Jamaica Merchants Trespass Notice” – a new initiative that would issue a trespassing notice to persons who engage in disorderly or unlawful activity in or outside shops and stores in Jamaica.
The program was created in partnership with the DA’s office, the NYPD, and the business community, as local businesses regularly struggle with people who use their stores and restaurants for illegal drug and other activities. disruptive behaviors, putting business owners, employees and customers at risk. Katz explained.
Katz said the main purpose of the program was to deter further disruptive behavior and that it provided an alternative to getting more people through the criminal justice system.
Instead, when they encounter individuals engaging in illegal or rowdy acts on their property, merchants can notify the 103rd Ward. Its response officers will give offenders a copy of the trespass notice, informing them that a repeat offense can or will result in their arrest.
“What it really does is clear communication between the store and the person who is disrupting that store’s business,” Katz said. “And just to be very clear to everyone on this, it distinguishes between unwanted and disruptive behavior and criminal acts such as theft or assault. First, there is a disclaimer. The warning is clear – returning is not an option.
The program also includes training police officers on what to deal with disruptive behavior in a store or restaurant, teaching them to first issue a trespassing warning, warning the offender.
Katz said it’s important the business community has the support it needs to come back strong after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“And that means helping to ensure that families feel safe when they go to the shops and when they decide to dine and shop here. We want people in the area to spend as much money as possible on their local businesses and feel safe,” Katz said.
Deputy Inspector Vincent Tavalaro, the commander of the 103rd Precinct, reiterated that the program was not about making arrests but about helping the community.
Tavalaro said his neighborhood has received damning reports of vagrancy inside and outside shops and businesses as well as quality of life infractions from merchants, business owners and residents. , and promised that “our solution is not just on paper”.
“It’s the result of everyone working together to forge a solution that we all understand,” Tavalaro said. “And that makes sense. It represents collective problem solving for the collective good.
Tavalaro swore the NYPD is committed to playing a vital role in caring for people who live, work and shop in Jamaica’s business district.
“Our mutual desire is to continue the growth of the Jamaican community and to do so peacefully and safely,” Tavalaro said.
Councilman Adrienne Adams, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, said that instead of focusing on recovering from the economic impact of the pandemic, the community has had to deal with an increase in illegal activities that are happening in and around storefronts in Jamaica.
Adams had a stern message for those intent on compromising community safety, emphasizing that “our public spaces and storefronts cannot and will not be used for unlawful activity.”
She called the new initiative “an important start to ensuring our businesses, workers and customers not only have peace, but peace of mind.”
Adams assured that elected officials, the DA’s office, the NYPD, community leaders and merchants would work together to keep businesses safe so they can begin the post-COVID-19 recovery process and thrive.
Jennifer Furioli of the Jamaica Center Business Improvement District was thrilled that the DA’s office, local precinct and elected officials had listened to business concerns and implemented the program to address disruptive and unproductive behavior.
“Over the past year and a half, our merchants have faced many upheavals due to the pandemic: significant loss of business, changing state and city regulations, ever-changing worker safety obligations, and more. again,” Furioli said. “The last thing our businesses need as they try to recover is the added stress of people who boldly set up shop and restaurants in our community just to conduct illegal activities, host parties, harass and threaten. workers and drive away customers.”
Furioli shared with QNS that last winter the owner of Dunkin’ Donuts on Parsons Boulevard contacted her and shared a harrowing encounter he had with people who walked into his store and threw a party, drinking beer and threatening his staff when they asked the group of young men to leave.
“We immediately notified the police. [The owner] notified the police. That was sort of the tipping point. I immediately started getting testimonials from our business owners that it had become a much bigger issue,” Furioli said.
She said in another instance, a Popeyes employee was punched in the face by someone selling drugs inside the fast food restaurant.
“This person felt so emboldened that they just punched an innocent worker in the face,” Furioli said. “It is simply unacceptable.”
Glenn Greenidge, executive director of the Sutphin Boulevard Business Improvement District, said business owners in his area face the same issues with individuals partying, drinking and smoking marijuana outside stores, blocking entrances and preventing customers from entering establishments.
He believes many are emboldened by New York State’s bail reform laws that went into effect in 2020 and the recent legalization of recreational marijuana, which will go into effect in January 2022.
“They come into the stores, they break their products and pack them inside the stores. And store owners try to kick them out, and they respond to them,” Greenidge said.
He hopes the intrusion program will change the situation.
“Hopefully with this trespassing affidavit we’ll have a little more access to keep them out of the area,” Greenidge said. “We have a little more teeth because that’s part of it.”