Serving the Bogardus, Hillside, Ellwood and Nagle area of northern Manhattan.
MEMO TO THE FILE, JUNE 29, 2014
1. June 28, 2014, 5:10 PM in front of 11 Hillside Ave., Manhattan, in which local drug dealers have long maintained an apartment. Four members of the Bogardus-Hillside-Nagel Block association present, in a chance assembly with four known local drug dealers, one of whom states, in a loud voice, “First cop through the door, I shoot my way out”.
2. Some years earlier. Meeting with Jim Drake, paid organizer for South Bronx Churches. Drake was one of Caesar Chavez' mentors. I met Drake in Delano at farmworker union headquarters many years ago. Drake describes making videos of six crack houses active near church buildings, and providing them to the DA and the local precincts. Five of the six were subsequently closed. In spite of continued video evidence and political pressure, the particular precinct containing the sixth maintained that 'there just wasn't enough evidence' to close it. Drake concluded that the crack house enjoyed a franchise from the precinct, and that SBC's efforts had simply eliminated competing organizations.
3. Meeting with Prof. Jeffrey A. Fagan, of stop-and-frisk fame, and, at the time, Director of the Columbia Violence Center, based at CPMC as a result of the intensity of the local crack war. Fagan and I are both recipients of an Investigator Award in Health Policy Research from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Fagan describes using ecosystem predator-prey theory to analyze gang violence. The essential point is that megafauna predators usually do not engage in active conflict if their geographic ranges are allowed to come to a non-competitive equilibrium. External disturbance – human intrusion – will displace predators into nearby settled ranges, triggering violent confrontation. My own work, now in press, attributes the 1990's NYC crack wars to forced population displacement following 'planned shrinkage' withdrawal of fire service aimed at, 'breaking up voting blocks', to use the words of an FBI agent from the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department with whom we collaborated.
4. Late September, 2013. Across from 11 Hillside Ave. open air drug market, about 3:00 PM, school children going home (3 schools at Bogardus and Ellwood) . Obvious suburbanites in 1990's style Washington Heights drive-by drug deal, the first observed, perhaps the first taking place under a new (cell phone or internet-mediated) marketing strategy. Buyers speed off among the children. Drug dealers give each other high-fives.
The next morning. Police car parked on Bogardus. White officer playing with cell phone, Black officer busily filling out forms. I ask if they know about the open-air drug market at Bogardus and Hillside. They say, 'oh yeah, some minor nighttime marijuana sales'. I describe the full-bore school-day drive-in, 1990's-style drug deal. They seem taken aback. The white officer says 'Since stop-and-frisk has ended, there isn't much we can do about that kind of thing'. I reply 'That's one way of looking at it. Another way is that we're forming a block association – 3 large co-ops, 3 large parent-teacher associations – and can cause a lot of political problems for the precinct on this'. The Black officer gets enthusiastic and suggests going to the Precinct Council meetings, etc. etc.
The next day, I am stunned by the message sent back by the 34th Precinct: all drug dealing stops at Hillside and Bogardus. Really. Stops. There is no dealing at all on the block for ten days, and the new team that finally comes in (for a while) is clearly a step up on the supervisory chain. Dealing is significantly curtailed, and no drive-ins are observed. Clearly, the H&B operation is franchised by the 34th Precinct.
5. Perhaps public life threats against police officers by the H&B drug operation should not be tolerated, in spite of desires to lower Precinct workload by franchising open-air drug operations.
Rodrick Wallace, PhD
Division of Epidemiology
NYSPI at Columbia University