01 Mar KEEPING THE COMMUNITY SAFE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH FLATBUSH SHOMRIM EXECUTIVE COORDINATOR, BOB (BORUCH) MOSKOVITZ
Name: Bob (Boruch) Moskovitz
Title: Executive Coordinator
Family: wife Naomi( definitely my better half) and B”H 4 married children and grandchildren
Years living in Flatbush: 45
Currently Davens at: Rabbi Schneerson’s Shul
Current employment outside of Flatbush Shomrim: Diamond Dealer
Years working for Flatbush Shomrim: 30
Number of current Flatbush Shomrim Members: 65
Number of Flatbush Shomrim Vehicles: 4
Number of Responses Flatbush Shomrim have responded to in the last year: approximately 5,000-6,000
Flatbush Shomrim Web Site: Flatbushshomrim.org
Flatbush Shomrim was founded by: Chaim Deutsch in 1991
Antisemitism throughout the world & especially Brooklyn is getting worse every day. It seems that we can’t go a week without hearing about an antisemitic incident. How are the Flatbush Shomrim dealing with this?
Crime in general is definitely a serious issue in our community. Thanks to bail reform and its revolving door, we see the same recidivist perpetrators plaguing our neighbourhood. Baruch Hashem for the most part, the biggest issue that we encounter are “quality of life” crimes. Our members are trained to constantly be on alert. However, with the uptick in anti semitic/ hate crimes , we are definitely on heightened alert. We have an excellent relationship with our local precinct commanders and their community affairs team, and are constantly informed of any anti semitic acts, or credible intel of possible threats. Our members when out on patrol, pay extra attention to our Shuls and Yeshivas. Our TARU team( technical assistance response unit) actively retrieve video footage, when such attacks do occur. This has proven to be very effective , resulting in apprehending many of these individuals perpetrating these hate crimes.
It seems that on Shabbos a lot more incidents happen than during the week. Are there extra Shomrim & police in the neighborhood on Shabbos?
Obviously Flatbush Shomrim will only respond on Shabbos if it’s a matter of Pikuach Nefesh! These would include special category missings and serious life threatening domestic cases, and of course a serious assault. In these Cases, we urge the community to call 911 and then our 24/7 emergency hotline 718- 3389797. Please don’t let time elapse! Make that phone call immediately! When it comes to pikuach Nefesh, most if not all rabbis would be in agreement. Additionally, we have lately hired NYPD personnel to patrol in our marked Shomrim vehicles on Yom Tovim as well as on Shabbos. Our local precinct commanders have also assured us that extra vehicles are assigned to our community during Shabbos and yom tov. We are of course very grateful to patrol Borough Brooklyn south and it’s commander Chief Kemper, for being attentive and responsive to our concerns!
What are the typical calls Flatbush Shomrim receives on a daily basis?
We rarely have a “typical” day. We respond to burglaries, assaults, package thefts,suspicious individuals, special category missings, domestic cases, car break-ins, lockouts of cars/ homes. We successfully recovered Tefillin that was stolen from cars. We also responded to countless requests for oxygen concentrators during the height of the covid pandemic. We have Torah Procession details and unfortunately funeral details as well. These both involve traffic and crowd control, ensuring the safety of all. When violent storms hit our area, our members have been out at all hours of the day and night clearing streets from fallen trees so that emergency vehicles can pass. We have unfortunately responded to fires and helped the families with just about anything that was needed. Realistically, Flatbush Shomrim rarely has a typical day.
What is the relationship like between the Flatbush Shomrim & the local police?
We have an excellent working relationship as they realize that we are a major asset. We are responsible for between 200-300 arrests per year within the confines of the 70-61-63-66 precincts. We share Intel with each other regarding burglaries and areas within the command that are being hit heavily and can use extra attention. Obviously, we retrieve and forward videos that are very helpful. Also, we do roll calls at the precincts and attend community council meetings as well as build the block meetings. We also run Torah Processions when they are understaffed and they reach out to us for our help. This is our way of supporting our local precincts and all their cops who put their lives on the line for us on a daily basis.
Do local politicians have your backs?
Absolutely! We are a tremendous asset to the community. They live in our neighborhood, and as such,get to see our dedicated and rapid response to any crisis that may arise, assisting their constituents.
When should someone call the Flatbush Shomrim?
This may sound familiar- “if you see something say something “. If something doesn’t look right, it may very well not be. Don’t say to yourself,” I’m not sure if it’s an emergency and warrants a call”. Let our trained dispatchers make that decision.
What do you have in your big Flatbush Shomrim truck that you park on corners?
We are fully equipped with everything needed in the event we need to deploy rapidly. We have full communication/ radio capabilities. We have laser printers that can print hundreds of flyers in minutes in the event of a missing person. We have laptops,and can bring up maps from any area, so that we can assign grids to responding members, or the community if their help is enlisted. We have a conference room where victims of crimes , or families of missings can be interviewed. We have exterior lights that can light up an entire block. We also deploy our command center to areas that have been hit hard with crime ,to act as a deterrent. Obviously, when a disaster, such as hurricane Sandy for example, struck our area, our command center played an integral part in assisting the community.
Legally, what can a member of The Flatbush Shomrim do before an officer arrives?
We always have to remember that we are the eyes and ears of the NYPD. We are civilians and aren’t looking to be heroes. That being said, there are definitely times when circumstances place us in harm’s way. We have strict protocols in place that keep our members safe! In extreme cases, a perpetrator may have to be detained. When that occurs, we make sure to keep the perpetrator as safe as possible till responding cops arrive and can affect the arrest.
What can homeowners do to protect themselves from burglaries & car thefts?
Regarding burgs, keep your windows closed, especially on the first floor. If you have an alarm, make sure it’s on all the time. Secure sliding doors on your patios/ decks by placing a rod or a piece of wood , so that it can’t be pried open. If you leave for a weekend or vacation, leave lights on a timer or adjust your smart switches to go on at different times both day and night. When it comes to car break-ins, we have a totally different problem. People aren’t locking their cars! If you leave the door unlocked, you have an excellent chance of being visited by a thief! Don’t be a “soft target “!! Lock your doors and leave NOTHING in plain view. And please please don’t leave valuables, wallets, credit cards etc. – even if you think you’re smart and will hide it under the seat, under the visor, or even in the trunk. THEY WILL FIND IT!
What are other local issues that come up that Flatbush Shomrim deal with?
Any local crisis that arises, you can be sure we will be up to the task! We are a multifaceted organization and can help you with just about anything. If we can’t, we certainly will advise and point you in the right direction.
Why did you join Flatbush Shomrim 30 years ago?
Like all of our dedicated members, we want to help our fellow Jew/ neighbor and make a difference! There is no greater feeling!
Who funds Flatbush Shomrim? How can someone donate?
We do get some funding from our politicians, but at the end of the day it’s very minimal. We rely greatly on the generosity of the community that we help daily. You can go to our website www. flatbushshomrim.org and click on donate. We’ve had fundraising campaigns in the past, but it wasn’t for us. We raised money for the purchase of oxygen concentrators, we raised money for the victims of a tragic fire.. we never had a drive for our day to day expenses. In the next few weeks leading up to Purim, we will be making a fundraising drive so that we can purchase all the necessary equipment that we use on a daily basis and cover all our expenses which have risen tremendously. We need your support in order to continue to protect you and offer our vital services. Please respond generously when we initiate the campaign.
If someone wants to become a member of The Flatbush Shomrim, what should they do? Are there any requirements to join?
They should go to our website Flatbushshomrim.org and fill out an application. When interviews are held, they will be contacted.
What’s the best way to reach the Flatbush Shomrim?
Our 24/7 emergency hotline 718- 3389797
Is there anything else that you would like to say to Jewish Vues readers?
We are here for you 24/7. We have an exceptional team of dedicated coordinators, supervisors, dispatchers and members, whose only reason for joining Flatbush Shomrim is to help the community and do Chesed. I personally am proud to be associated with such an extraordinary group of guys. We are a family and pride ourselves on our teamwork. We are also very blessed to have two outstanding members of the NYPD AND our community , Inspector Richie Taylor and LT. Ira Jablon. They are there for both the Flatbush Shomrim and the entire community practically 24/7. We are very fortunate to have them in such important positions in the department. I would say to you, that just as you should with police officers, when you see our members responding or just patrolling “your” streets, say thank you. It goes a long way!