Calling the Cop Next Door

(WNYC) Omar Amador gritted his teeth when drug users broke the flimsy front door lock to his Bronx apartment building and took over part of the lobby. His anger rose when one of them used a spot near his fourth floor apartment as a toilet. But the last straw came when his mother, a resident of the building since the 1980s, told him it felt like things were sliding back to the days when crack was whack and people like her lived in fear.

That’s when Amador decided to put up resistance. He went up to the guys smoking dope and injecting heroin and told them they were breaking the law. “They didn’t care,” he recalled. “They would threaten me. They would call me names.”

Next, he called 311 … and got the runaround. “They connected me to every single department and at some point, I felt despair. There was no hope.” Even the beat cops who showed up once, about six months ago, told him they could make arrests but they’d have to catch the guys in the act of committing a crime and that was hard to do.

But one of those cops took pity on Amador and gave him the number to the personal cell phone of Detective Wilfredo Benitez. “That pretty much changed everything,” Amador said. Suddenly he had access to an officer who could mobilize resources, respond quickly and make arrests.

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