Pineiro

Pineiro, third from right, poses with Chell, Valdez, Councilmember Deutsch and members of the 61st Precinct Community Council (Source: NYPD1DCPINEIRO/Twitter)

The 61st Precinct Community Council received a rare visit from First Deputy Commissioner Rafael Pineiro, the second highest-ranking official of the NYPD, to acknowledge the transfer of Captain John Chell and welcome incoming commanding officer Deputy Inspector Carlos Valdez to the post.

The meeting served as a ceremonial passing of the baton, with community members heaping praise on Chell who served as head of the command for 22 months and is now being transferred to the 79th Precinct, covering Bed-Stuy. But Pineiro also faced some heat from residents who questioned the long-standing NYPD policy of regularly reshuffling commanding officers around the city, as well as other concerns.

Pineiro’s trip to the command was unpublicized, and his arrival, with security in tow, raised eyebrows among those unsure of the purpose of the dignitary’s visit. But the second-in-command appeared to be present to speak to the service of his commanding officers.

“I want to express on behalf of the department our deep appreciation for the great job he did here, effectively addressing crime conditions and quality-of-life conditions while he was here,” Pineiro said. “He was instrumental in shephedring the community … though Superstorm Sandy, and he also hosted the 60th Precinct members” who were flooded from their stationhouse.

The deputy commissioner switched his attention to Deputy Inspector Carlos Valdez, who has taken the reins of the command. Valdez arrives from PSA 1, which patrols public housing developments within the 60th, 61st, 63rd and 69th Precincts.

“He did a great job [at PSA 1],” he said. “He was instrumental during those very dark days that we had where we lost police officer Dennis Guerra as a result of that fire that took place in that housing development. He conducted himself with a tremendous amount of professionalism and dignity and spent a great deal of time with the family. I want to commend him, he’s an extremely competent, confident guy.”

Pineiro, a Cuban immigrant who is the highest-ranking Hispanic-American on the force, also spoke of the department’s changing demographics and its reflection on the opportunities available in New York City. It is unclear if Valdez is the first Hispanic-American to lead the 61st Precinct.

“The evolution, the transformation of this agency is representative of what this city can offer. I was given an opportunity to come here, become a citizen, join the agency that I had no relation to … and I was able to go up through the ranks” and pursue education with help from the NYPD, he said.

Many neighbors at the meeting heaped praise on Chell for his time in the precinct. But Pineiro, who took questions after his remarks, was challenged on the department’s staffing policy. Commanding officers generally serve two-to-four years in one precinct before being switched to another area, and some in the audience believed it prevented them from learning and understanding the unique neighborhoods in which they work.

“Try to explain to me why, when things are working perfectly, somebody has to mess up the whole thing. No disrespect to the inspector who is about to take over, but Captain Chell was doing such a good job … and all of a sudden he’s moving on,” said Gerritsen Beach resident Bob Banham. “No disrespect, but it’s going to take [Valdez] over a year to turn around and point out what’s going on in the community.”

Pineiro urged residents to “have faith,” saying he believed in Valdez’ abilities.

He added that the shifting of personnel allows them to learn new techniques and develop broader expertise, which they bring to new commands as they move.

Chell seconded the confidence in Valdez during his outgoing statements.

“I sit here and get the props and thank yous, and I appreciate it, but the [officers of the 61st Precinct] are the ones who did it, and I get credit for it. And I thank you on their behalf,” he said. “Inspector Valdez is going to do well for two reasons. And it’s the only two things you really need in this job. You work hard, and your heart is in the right place.”

Valdez promised to work closely with the community to continue Chell’s work.

“I look very forward to being here. I’m very excited, and I’m very community oriented. I will try to address your issues and your problems that you present to me and my staff as much as possible,” he said.

Source: MichaelTapp/Flickr

B LINE

From 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Friday, Brighton Beach-bound B trains skip 182-183 Sts.

Q LINE

There are no subway service adjustments scheduled for this week.

F LINE

From 12:01 a.m. to 5 a.m., Wednesday to Friday, Coney Island-bound F trains run local from Roosevelt Av to 21 St-Queensbridge.

From 12:01 a.m. to 5 a.m., Wednesday to Friday, F service operates in two sections:

  1. Between 179 St and Hoyt-Schermerhorn Sts A/G station – the last stop.
  2. Between Bedford-Nostrand Avs and Stillwell Av.
    • To continue your trip, transfer at Hoyt-Schermerhorn Sts.

From 12:30 a.m. to 5 a.m., Wednesday to Friday, 179 St-bound F trains run local from 21 St-Queensbridge to Roosevelt Av.

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, a member of the Assembly’s Health Committee, encourages residents of the 45th Assembly District to sign up for his free “Balance Improvement and Light Exercise” classes, this Tuesday, July 15.

There will be two one-hour-long classes, beginning at 11 a.m. and a second at noon, in conjunction with Mount Sinai Beth Israel Brooklyn, held at the Assemblyman’s district office, 1800 Sheepshead Bay Road between Emmons Avenue and Shore Parkway.

Registration is required. To register, call (718) 743-4078 or email cymbros@assembly.state.ny.us.

THE COMMUTE: On June 23rd, I wrote how there were unacceptable gaps in bus service on the B1 and B49 at the same time on a recent Sunday afternoon. Wondering if this was just a fluke or a regular occurrence, I decided to check Bus Time on the previous Sunday, June 22, after I boarded a B1 bus eastbound at Coney Island Avenue without any wait and noticed a second B1 right behind it. This is what I uncovered.

Continue Reading »

Source: mikey k/Flickr

Source: mikey k/Flickr

Police took a 54-year-old man into custody on Saturday after finding the body of his 62-year-old brother in the bathtub of his Luna Park co-op, with chemical burns to his chest and leg.

Cops were called to the scene at 8:46 a.m. following a 911 call for a man in need of help. It’s unclear who called the police, but when they arrived at the ninth floor apartment at 2819 West 12th Street the man attempted to block their entrance.

After a struggle, they restrained the man who authorities described as emotionally disturbed.

Once inside, cops discovered the unconscious and unresponsive body in the bathtub and called EMS. Medical responders declared him dead at the scene, and told the police that the male had chemical burns to the chest and leg.

The 54-year-old was taken to Staten Island University Hospital for psychological evaluation and treatment of chemical burns on his arms.

Neither of the men were identified by police, and the 54-year-old has not been charged with a crime.

The New York Times identified the two as brothers, and police told the paper that they’re struggling to get answers from the surviving sibling.

“Some of the stuff he’s saying doesn’t make sense,” a police department spokesman said.

The medical examiner will determine the cause of the death, and police are still investigating.

Some of the photographer’s notes from the field, which I always enjoy:

I was shooting on the pier when it started to downpour. By the time I got to shelter at the carousel, I was drenched. I waited until the rain let up a bit and as I started to leave I saw the incredible glow of the sunset behind MCU park. The photo does not capture how gorgeous it was.

Photo by Robin Michals

Morning Mug is our daily showcase of photographs from our readers. If you have a photograph that you’d like to see featured, send them to photos@sheepsheadbites.com.

Oh, what’s that? You’re dieting on a Sunday? Too bad, buddy. Taken at Donut Shoppe (a.k.a. Sheikh’s) (Source: roboppy/Flickr)

In Case You Missed It (ICYMI): What’s this? A Sunday post on Sheepshead Bites? Yep, we’re doing that now. You’ve got a big week ahead of you because you’re an important person. So we’re going to make your life a little easier and refresh your addled-brain with a roundup of some of the big stories you may have missed this past week.

Of course, you can keep up with what’s going on in the neighborhood all week long. Just follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for our daily newsletter. If you have any news tips, story ideas, questions or anything else, e-mail us at editor [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

Here are the big stories on Sheepshead Bites from July 7 – 12:

Have a great Sunday, and if you’re looking for something new to eat, try Anatolian Gyro’s octopus salad.

swastika

A fringe religious group that believes extraterrestrial scientists created life on Earth is today flying a large swastika banner over Brighton Beach and Coney Island, outraging residents in one of the world’s largest communities of Holocaust survivors.

The plane was spotted by beachgoers flying between Coney Island Avenue and Brighton 15th Street around noon. With a symbol of a Star of David interlaced with the swastika, and a message that reads “卐 + ☮ = ❤ Proswastika.org,” the banner is commissioned annually by the International Raelian Movement in an attempt to “rehabilitate” the symbol to it’s pre-Nazi-era meaning of peace. It flew over the beach in previous years, sparking headlines - and outbursts from upset residents.

This year is no different.

“A plane was flying with this sign over the beach today, not once but twice it went past  the beach. Beaches filled with families and children. This is an inhumane action and must be stopped,” wrote tipster Jane Roitman, who sent in the photo above.

Another tipster called in to say that the group is being beyond insensitive, given the area’s dense population of Holocaust survivors and the current inflamed tensions between Israel and Palestine.

“I was dumbfounded by it. My grandparents are Holocaust survivors, and everyone [in Brighton Beach] knows someone whose family was affected by the Holocaust,” said Loren Azimov. “The timing could not be worse with everything going on in Israel and Palestine; it’s as bad as it has ever been.”

Azimov said there are other ways to try to rehabilitate the symbol without being so offensive, and that he’d like to see either the banner grounded.

“The First Amendment is not an acceptable reason [to let it fly.] What if it was rehabilitation of slavery? People would be up in arms,” Azimov said, adding that he’d like to see pressure on the company the organization chartered to refuse them access to the skies in the future.

It wouldn’t be the first company to decline the Raelian’s business. The group sought an expanded international campaign for what they’re calling Swastika Rehabilitation Week this year. When they approached a major Canadian billboard company, they were turned away.

“The company representative said many people would see our ad as offensive and inflammatory, so they wouldn’t post it,” said Thomas Kaenzig in a press release. Kaenzig is a planetary guide, the title for a top-ranking clergymember. “So this poses a real catch 22. How can the world be reeducated about the truth of this symbol if we can’t get the word out to show people?”

Azimov has been calling elected officials and government agencies, but to no avail. One prominent leader in Brighton Beach’s Russian-Jewish community told him that he should “consider writing a letter to the leadership of this org and kindly express compelling reasons not to fly this in our area.”

The Raelians may not be so receptive to Azimov’s rationale. Aside from brushing off similar complaints in previous years, the group appears to have a tenuous grasp on reality.

Raelism dates back to the 1970s and is the world’s largest UFO religion, believing that space scientists created life and have been popping in for visits throughout human history (with increased frequency in recent years, as evidenced through all the UFO sightings in the past century). Buddha, Jesus and other religious figures are all believed by the group to be messengers of the extraterrestrials. The group is attempting to build an interplanetary embassy to welcome extraterrestrials, and have been denied land in Israel because of their prominent use of the swastika.

The group also operates Clonaid, a company developing human cloning. The company claimed to have cloned the first human in 2002. There was no evidence that the claim was anything more than a publicity stunt, and the group has since been derided as cult led by a sex-crazed leader.

UPDATE (3:28 p.m.): Councilman Mark Treyger, who represents Coney Island and part of Brighton Beach, and is also the grandson of Holocaust survivors, called Sheepshead Bites to express his outrage.

“It isabsolutely disgusting and an egregious act of hate and intolerance. Whatever this hate group is, it’s an unacceptable act. I’ve asked the police department to investigate how this happened and how it came to be,” he said.

Treyger said he’s received numerous calls from constituents offended by the banner. He has also reached out to the mayor’s office and the City Council speaker’s office, which he said were receptive to the concerns. He said authorities are trying to determine if the plane and advertising campaign are in violation of any laws, and are also attempting to identify the company chartered to fly the banner.

The local pol said the group’s attempt to restore the symbol as one of peace and unity has little chance of success, and the group should stop its “outrageous” approach.

“Try asking someone who witnessed their loved ones murdered under that symbol if they’ll view that symbol as anything but murder and pain,” he said. “There’s no place for this here in this country.”

 
It looks like the sky, presumably over southern Brooklyn (if not, then you, Madame Photographer, are breaking the rules!), except it also looks like the water. Who’s with me?

Either way, have a great weekend everyone!

Photo by Emilia Amos

Source: Jon Chevier™/Flickr

Q LINE

There are no subway service advisories scheduled at this time.

F LINE

From 9:45 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday, Jamaica-bound F trains are rerouted via the E after 47-50 Sts to Roosevelt Av.

From 12:01 a.m. Saturday to 5 a.m. Monday, F trains run local in Queens.