New racino comes with security concerns
by Stephen Geffon
May 10, 2011 | 4550 views | 0 0 comments | 89 89 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Over 100 neighborhood residents came to the Community Board 10 meeting in South Ozone Park last Thursday to ask Patrol Borough Queens South Assistant Chief James Secreto one question: how many police officers will be assigned to the area surrounding the soon-to-open Resorts World Casino in Ozone Park?

“Our concerns of this board, in terms of public safety, are broader than just the casino facility itself,” said CB10 Chair Betty Braton.

Braton said the purpose of the meeting was to address the level of police resources that will be deployed within the confines of the 106th Precinct to ensure that there is no further reduction of police services in the community that surrounds the casino facility.

Braton also asked what police resources will be available in the precinct to proactively prevent potential crime, quality of life impacts surrounding Aqueduct, and potential negative traffic impacts.

There are projected to be 8.4 million people visiting the casino annually. With the casino open 365 days a year, an average of about 23,000 people a day will be passing through the community. The expected peak demand for casino use will be on Friday and Saturday nights, which are also the peak hours for police service in the community.

Braton said the projections are that 75 percent of the 8.4 million people will come to the casino by vehicle, and that traffic impacts need to be addressed.

Secreto said that since this is the city’s first casino, he and his staff looked at Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Belmont Racetrack and Empire Casino in Yonkers for ideas on how best to police it.

“This is going to be different,” he said. “It’s going to be a work-in-progress.”

He told attendees that he has put in a request for additional officers with the NYPD Office of Management Analysis and Planning, which will review the figures submitted and decide how many officers, if any, they will assign.

Although he has not heard back from the office, he said that based on phone conversations with Commander Deputy Chief John Donahue, the office is concerned about the facility, which is slated to open at the end of the summer.

He anticipates that additional officers will be assigned, but at this time he could not say how many. Secreto said he has also had discussions with the NYPD Counterterrorism Division, which will also be involved when the casino opens.

“We are going to police [the casino neighborhood], we’ll have people to answer the calls,” Secreto said.

Regarding the community’s traffic concerns, Secreto assured the board members that additional traffic agents would be assigned to the area. Donna Gilmartin, chair of CB10’s Aqueduct Subcommittee, pressed Chief Secreto for answers.

“We have a lot of nervous people around here,” said Gilmartin. “We need to know the numbers, we need to know where they are going to be, when they are going to be here.”

Frank Dardani, chair of the board’s Public Safety committee, told Secreto that there has to be a police presence. “This is going to be a hot spot, we need a lot of cops,” he said.

Secreto assured Gilmartin and Dardani that “if Uptown doesn’t give us anything, we’ll staff it with resources that we have in the Borough.”

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