Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Prostitution Sting Op Upsets Neighborhood by Stephen Geffon - Queens Chronicle

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A 106th Precinct undercover prostitution sting operation in South Ozone Park has angered some residents who live on the block where it was conducted.

Police asked the Chronicle not to disclose the location of the block to protect the undercover operation.

Several of the block’s residents voiced their concerns about the sting at last week’s precinct meeting.

A spokesman for the group, who did not give his name, said the residents were worried because people who did not know about the police sting believed the block to be a hangout for prostitutes.

“It makes our block look bad,” he said. “There are no prostitutes, no johns, no drugs [here].”

Capt. Thomas Pascale, commanding officer of the 106th Precinct, said this is the first time he has received such a complaint, despite the fact that the precinct conducts many operations.

Precinct Community Affairs Officer Ken Zorn said after the meeting that police have received complaints from residents that prostitutes are using some motels in the community.

Zorn said that based on the public's complaints, police officers have conducted prostitution sting operations at different locations throughout the precinct.

Other stings include checking retail establishments for unlawful sales of cigarettes and alcohol to minors and checking on pawn shops, Zorn said.

Another resident expressed her concern about the homeless men residing at the Skyway shelter in South Ozone Park. Residents have been upset with the city’s recent decision to house single adult males at the shelter instead of families, as had been the case.

“When we observe the homeless men doing an illegal activity we will take police action,” Zorn said.

Police have increased their patrols in the area around Skyway, Zorn said. Also, additional police officers have been assigned in and around PS 124, located two blocks from the shelter. Plainclothes officers have been assigned to patrol the area, and a police officer has been assigned to patrol PS 124 at school dismissal time.

Trespass affidavits have been secured from the gas station near the shelter, allowing officers to arrest individuals if they are trespassing there.

Police said they will disseminate information about any sex offenders at the shelter to the community.