NYPD urges Upper West Side residents to call 911 about shelter problems

Who ya gonna call?

The NYPD had to make a personal appeal to Upper West Siders to 911 them instead of running to the NY Post and local politicians to sound the alarm on deteriorating conditions there, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence & Counterterrorism John Miller said on the radio Wednesday.

“We only have five calls to 911 about narcotics activity,” he said of one month this summer on the John Catsimatidis show Cats at Night.

“Yet, there were scores of emails and text messages and photographs of people shooting up that we’re going to the New York Post, that were going to city council, and you know, Helen Rosenthal and Borough President Gale Brewer,” he said.

“So you know we had people who were recording these things, posting them on social media and complaining that weren’t complaining to the police. So that’s not generating that call that’s gonna send the radio car.”

Residents of the neighborhood have been complaining about drug use, public urination and other illegal activities in the area of several homeless shelters, at least one of which houses men with drug addiction, in the West 70’s and 80’s.

Miller said he lives in the neighborhood and understood why people are upset.

Two men sleep at the park on 72nd street and Broadway at the Upper West Side.
Two men sleep at the park on 72nd street and Broadway at the Upper West Side.Stephen Yang

“Going back some time, you know they have emptied the state prisons into the homeless shelters, so you have a lot of people with criminal records and criminal backgrounds who were let out on parole by the hundreds and then the thousands who gravitated to the shelters because they have to show an address,” he said. “Then you had COVID come along and you had the shelters emptied into hotels, and in the Upper West Side you had four hotels in the 20th Precinct and in the 24th Precinct.”

He said the heads of the two commands experiencing the conditions, the 20th and 24th precincts, have been talking with community members and telling them to call 911.

“So then those calls started to come in, we’re able to map those locations and conditions, some of which you know we were aware of,” he said. “And then in the last few days you’ve seen real activity.”

The other day cops made 22 arrests for crack, for cocaine, for K2 and for marijuana, in the neighborhood, he said, adding that there was also a BMW pulled over with $10,000 of marijuana in it.

“So what you see is that was not the character of crime on the Upper West Side,” he said. “But when you inject a lot of people with drug dependencies who are having trouble beating those dependencies you’re going to see drug dealers who weren’t there in the first place because that’s where their customer base has moved. So this has been a real challenge.”


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