Officers stand guard outside a Key Food on Neptune Avenue where 18 people were arrested for looting.
Police have fanned out across the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy to patrol neighborhoods plunged into darkness, direct traffic at snarled intersections and stand guard in areas where looting has been reported.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said officers are working longer shifts — and police say they have tapped the Organized Crime Control Bureau for additional officers on the ground, are using recruits to man some intersections have relied on NYPD school security to help staff city-operated shelters.
“Certainly we're focused on the blackout areas, but other areas as well,” Kelly said Thursday. “I think the officers are doing an excellent job in covering a whole host of issues we're addressing."
In hard-hit Coney Island, police were standing guard on just about every block Thursday, patrolling by foot and standing guard outside a Key Food where hours earlier 18 were arrested for looting. Earlier in the week, nine had been arrested for looting in the neighborhood.
Looting has also been reported in parts of Far Rockaway and Manhattan.
And even with a strong police presence, Coney Island resident Kenneth Bishop, who lives on East 33rd Street, said he has seen looters carry stolen items past his window.
"What they do is keep watch on the activity of the police and the moment that police are gone they go right back into action," he said.
Bishop said instead of locals stealing to overcome food and water shortages after the storm he believed it was more the work of opportunistic gangs.
Wanda Feliciano, resident leader of Unity Towers, one of the nine public housing complexes in the area, said she's also concerned about a potential crime wave.
"Now the people in the neighborhood are taking things and looting and robbing,” she said. “I had one apartment that was robbed while the people were away and that's not good. People have to live here.”
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz said the police presence has been key in hard-hit areas.
"I would prefer that we didn't need such a police presence,” he said. "Unfortunately, there's always a few mutants who make it bad for everyone."
Kathleen Horan is a staff reporter for New York Public Radio, covering the criminal justice beat. She also reports 'Reset', an ongoing series documenting police-community relations in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
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