At first glance, the line of boys from the Allen-Stevenson School leaving the 19th Precinct last Monday in their blue blazers and khaki slacks seemed to suggest that things were returning to normal.
School groups would frequently visit the station house in less eventful times for a tour that included the holding cell off the main lobby, the detective squad’s nifty interrogation room (complete with two-way mirror) and a meeting with Captain Howard Lawrence, the precinct’s commanding officer. Some inventive parents even held their kids’ birthday parties at the precinct, though protocol-not to mention the fairly steady stream of crooks arriving in handcuffs-required them to go elsewhere for cake and ice cream.
However, the Allen-Stevenson fifth graders weren’t there for a tour. They were just dropping off cards they’d written to boost the morale of their heroes.
“They stopped at the firehouse, and they came here next,” explained Stephen Petrillo, the precinct’s community-affairs officer.
It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that the station house has been deluged with cards, not only from Upper East Side schools but also from schools in Long Island, where many of the cops and their families live. And the cards aren’t just for the cops and firefighters, either: Some of the most heartfelt and creative messages were addressed to the search dogs poring through the rubble of the World Trade Center.
“For a very special dog,” said one bone-shaped card.
“For a very good group of dogs,” stated a second that wasn’t just shaped like a bone, but was also crafted out of lovely gold foil.
Since the attack in lower Manhattan, crime in the precinct is down a staggering 53 percent from the same period a year ago. Grand larcenies are down 52 percent, grand-larceny autos 73 percent, burglaries 50 percent and robberies 72 percent. “Even the criminals showed a little patriotism,” observed Sergeant Kathy Fortier, somewhat tongue-in-cheek.
Of course, the one category in which crime is booming is bomb scares. At noon on Sept. 14, a bank branch on East 86th Street received a call warning of a bomb in the basement. A clothing store received two bomb threats, one on Sept. 13, the other on Sept. 14. And a public school was also evacuated while the building was searched.
On Sept. 13, two consulates also experienced incidents. A strange caller to the Indian consulate at 3 East 64th Street stated, “Are you happy? Are you happy what we did to your hijacking? And it’s going to happen more.” And the U.N. Mission of Somalia, at 425 East 61st Street, received a visit from a man who identified himself as the “new ambassador to Somalia,” ordered a female employee out, then pushed her and used obscene language before fleeing with a second perp.
Indeed, events have been so scary lately that when one comes across a conventional crime report, such as a robbery that occurred at the Trilogy Bar and Grill at 1403 Second Avenue on Sept. 13, it evokes something resembling nostalgia.
On that date, a man in his 30’s visited the bar at around 3 p.m., pushed an employee into the bathroom, displayed a firearm and told his victim to stay put. Then he robbed the place of $600 before fleeing in an unknown direction. The cops responded to the scene and searched for the perp without success.