Gunshots or Fireworks?: Crime in Pomonok, Queens

I live only blocks away from the Pomonok Houses, or the Pomonok "Projects," in Queens, in the more private, safe community known as Electchester, and the difference between the two neighborhoods, which are so close together in the larger neighborhood also known as Pomonok, is striking. The Pomonok Houses complex is known for ongoing crimes, most revolving around petty theft and assault, and it’s becoming increasingly problematic.

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While there is a police precinct between the two communities, just off Jewel Avenue and Kissena Boulevard, it seems like it is only taunting the residents of Pomonok to step out. A resident of Electchester Housing, Helen Kelly, feels “That if there is [more] police presence in Pomonok, that maybe the younger delinquents will not feel pushed to do something [like] vandalizing my car again.” Kelly is greatly irritated, and it is understandable why many would think this. It is usually perceived that the higher the police presence, less the crimes.

89 counts of theft, 43 counts of assault, 14 counts of robbery, 9 counts of burglary, and 3 counts of shooting are the most recent crime stats for Pomonok. Elechester and the Pomonok Houses are seemingly segregated areas. Pomonok does not look safe due to its lack of maintenance, which is the case because it is indeed a poor neighborhood; not to say Electchester is full of the privileged, but the community is taken care of daily simply because Electchester Housing Co. can afford it and wants their residents to be comfortable. Both communities are diverse, all of Queens is. Elechester isn’t 100% crime free, but when any crime committed in this community it is (perhaps incorrectly) assumed, that a Pomonok Houses resident is responsible for it. Just two years ago, a little girl was screaming in the park behind my building, and my father and I both assumed it was kids being kids, but it was worse than that: that little girl watched her mother being robbed in front of her and there was no one there to stop the assailant. After the victim reported the incident, it was later confirmed the suspect was indeed a Pomonok resident. Would you want your child playing at the park after that? Loud noises can be heard in both communities, noises that resemble gun shots. At this point, no one reacts anymore because “it’s normal here.” No, it isn’t normal, but it has become mundane.

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Police Service Area 9, 155-9 Jewel Avenue, Flushing, NY 11367. This small precinct is located between both communities. The building to the right is part of Electchester

Forming an organized neighborhood watch, or even increasing the amount of police patrols in the area may reduce incidents in both communities. Preventing further crime at the Pomonok Houses can be done by forming counseling programs to speak to those who have a criminal background or are affiliated with those who actively commit crimes to decrease risks of peer pressure. Renovating the buildings and landscapes could makes the neighborhood less of an eyesore, and many people would feel more comfortable living there and walking in the area, without raising the cost of living. Having a better environment could calm then neighborhood. If these solutions are successful, the Pomonok Houses could become safer and many would turn their backs less as they walk home, even Electchester residents such as myself will worry less of the possibility of something terrifyingly life-changing.

We all want what’s better for the next generation of children. If crime were to decrease in Pomonok, children and teens would be less exposed to potentially life-scarring events. If it continues to rise, it will spread like a plague. Many would prefer to walk safe streets, so if crime were to decrease Pomonok could become of the listed "upcoming neighborhoods" in Queens.

  • Justin Dobbins

    Pomonok/Electchester is a tough area nowadays no doubt, gun shots are very common in the housing complexes.