The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘NYPD

uneasy voices

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Quite the hullabaloo over in Astoria last Friday.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Rainy, last Friday evening, a sudden explosion of sirens and a characteristic strobing of red and white light announced that members of the Fire Department had arrived to pursue their occupation. I grew interested when Rescue 4 showed up, which I understand to be a sort of mobile command post and which I’ve only seen when the situation is truly serious.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There were two crewed trucks, a hook and ladder unit and an engine unit. In addition, the Rescue 4 truck and this “Haz Tac” unit arrived on scene along with a couple of ambulances. The setting is Broadway in Astoria, by the way, between 43rd and 44th streets.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There were enough FDNY personnel down there to start a soccer team, but they all seemed to be milling about, rather than the rushing around and “crash bang” action which normally describes the pursuit of their occupation.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

NYPD sent an ESU (Emergency Services Unit) truck as well as a highway patrol and several ordinary unit cars, and being the nosey sort, this motivated me to throw the filthy black raincoat on and find out what was going on.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The municipal employees were tight lipped, as usual, but my network of local Croatians had already created a cogent narrative. The whole thing revolved around this van.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As transmitted to me by the Istrian witnesses, there was an accident. A typical fender bender with no injuries, the driver of the van nevertheless fled the scene and abandoned the vehicle.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Some unknown municipal threshold must have been achieved, in terms of ascertaining the threat posed by the vehicle, and the FDNY began to pack up and leave. NYPD got busy with traffic cones and redirecting traffic. One wonders, however, what triggered this massive response to an abandoned van.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 9, 2013 at 9:20 am

beckon eagerly

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Whilst wandering along lost in a self critical soliloquy, as your humble narrator has more than just a few regrets and guilty interludes based around the amount of damage caused to those I care about due to my presence in their lives, this conveyance of the local gendarme caught my eye. It bears the familiar color way of the NYPD, however it is the property of the NYC Sheriff, a separate agency with a wholly different mission from the more numerous constables.


The Office of the City Sheriff, Law Enforcement Bureau (LEB) is a state and city charter mandated service of the Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff is an officer of the court, and his primary purpose and function is to serve and execute the various legal processes and mandates issued not only by and for the several courts of the state and its subdivisions, but also for the legal community and the general public.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The vehicle got me thinking about how vision and memory actually work. My addled brain wanted to file the vehicle away under “cops” upon seeing the thing, due to the familiar pattern of blue and white. Like the adaptation to smell commented upon by employees of the DEP waste water system, wherein constant environmental stimuli renders one blind to odor, how much of our frenetic visual locale is filtered out by an overwhelmed visual cortex? If these NYPD ESU trucks said “USSR”, would you notice it?

from wikipedia

The New York City Police Department Emergency Service Unit is the Emergency Service Unit (ESU) for the New York City Police Department. A component of the Special Operations Division of the Patrol Services Bureau, the unit provides specialized support and advanced equipment to other NYPD units. For example, its Canine Unit helps with searches for perpetrators and missing persons. The Emergency Service Unit also functions as a Special Weapons and Tactical Unit (SWAT) and NYPD hostage negotiators assist and secure the safety of hostages. Members of “ESU” are cross trained in multiple disciplines for police and rescue work.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Often one ponders if this is the core thing which sets me apart from others, this allegiance to noticing literally everything. When entering a room, my head pivots about, and a careful inventory of my surroundings are made. I know where the fire exits are in any auditorium, catalog inconsistent details, and above all- instantly notice that which “does not belong”. More often than not, that out of place thing which does belong is myself, of course. Always must I remain an Outsider.

from wikipedia

Gestalt psychologists working primarily in the 1930s and 1940s raised many of the research questions that are studied by vision scientists today.

The Gestalt Laws of Organization have guided the study of how people perceive visual components as organized patterns or wholes, instead of many different parts. Gestalt is a German word that partially translates to “configuration or pattern” along with “whole or emergent structure.” According to this theory, there are six main factors that determine how the visual system automatically groups elements into patterns: Proximity, Similarity, Closure, Symmetry, Common Fate (i.e. common motion), and Continuity.

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 21, 2013 at 12:15 am

chiseled likeness

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

Recently observed patrolling the languid expanses of the Newtown Creek, the NYPD Harbor Unit’s “Lt. Federico Narvaez”. The coppers name their boats after fallen comrades. There is also a playground in Brooklyn named after the departed officer.


Police Lieutenant Federico Narvaez (1956-1996), who was born in Brooklyn and died in the vicinity of this Flatbush playground. Following his graduation from high school in Williamsburg, Narvaez studied business at Baruch College, where he met his wife, Marilyn. The two married in 1980 and had one child, Katrina. Appointed to the Police Department in 1979, Narvaez served at the 25th, 34th and 23rd Precincts before his promotion to Lieutenant in 1993. In addition, Narvaez had tours of duty with the Narcotics Division, the Warrant Division and the Civilian Complaint Review Board.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The story of the fallen officer is told at the “NYPD Angels” site, linked to below. This is a message board frequented by the members of the force, and often displays a “pulls no punches” manner- so be warned if you click through. Launch 3 is technically a ship, not a boat. It’s a ship because it can launch a boat, which is one of those little bits of maritime knowledge you pick up hanging around sailors. There are enormous vessels out there- Tugs come to mind- which cannot launch a boat. It’s one of those minor points…


Lieutenant Narvaez was shot and killed after being flagged down by a female pedestrian. The pedestrian told him that she was being stalked and Lieutenant Narvaez approached the man after calling for backup. The man turned and fired, striking Lieutenant Narvaez in the face. The man ran down a street but was stopped by other responding units. He was told to drop his gun but fired at the units and was shot and killed.

Lieutenant Narvaez had been on the job for 17 years.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This Police ship, not boat, is actually pretty large. Most of the NYPD vessels you see are actually rather small, built for speed rather than capacity. On the day which these shots were captured, I was waiting for a group to arrive (who were running late) and whatever the Cops were doing on the Creek, they were back there for a good hour or more before I saw them heading back out to the East River.

from wikipedia

Commanding Officer of Harbor Unit – Deputy Inspector David Driscoll

On March 15, 1858, five members of the New York City Police Department rowed out into New York Harbor to combat piracy aboard merchant ships lying at anchor. The NYPD Harbor Unit has existed ever since, protecting life and property. With hundreds of miles of inland waterways to cover, the unit operates 27 boats from three bases.

For underwater work, the department used to contract with private diving companies when weapons or other evidence had to be recovered from the bottom of New York’s many rivers and waterways. In the early 1970s, however, the Harbor Unit formed a specialized scuba team that today numbers around 30 officers. Unlike many police dive units, whose members dive only part-time, NYPD divers are assigned to the unit full-time. (The exception are some scuba-trained officers in regular patrol units who are detailed to the team temporarily during the busy summer months.) In addition to the normal duties of evidence recovery, the Scuba Team’s mission has expanded since 9/11 to include a counter-terrorism role. For air-sea rescue work, the Harbor Unit keeps two divers assigned to the Aviation Unit 24 hours a day, seven days per week, all year round. These divers will work with their counterparts in the FDNY, who arrive at incidents by fireboat or rescue company.

image from wikipedia


Upcoming Walking Tour- The Poison Cauldron, with Atlas Obscura

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Meetup at the corner of Kingsland and Norman Avenues in Greenpoint at 11 on Saturday, August 25th.

We will be exploring the petroleum and waste transfer districts of the Newtown Creek watershed in North Brooklyn. Heavily industrialized, the area we will be walking through is the heart of the Greenpoint Oil Spill and home to scores of waste transfer stations and other heavy industries. We will be heading for the thrice damned Kosciuszko Bridge, which is scheduled for a demolition and replacement project which will be starting in 2013. Photographers, in particular, will find this an interesting walk through a little known and quite obscure section of New York City.

Be prepared: We’ll be encountering broken pavement, sometimes heavy truck traffic, and experiencing a virtual urban desert as we move through the concrete devastations of North Brooklyn. Dress and pack appropriately for hiking, closed toe shoes are highly recommended- as are a hat or parasol to shield you from the sun.

Bathroom opportunities will be found only at the start of the walk, which will be around three hours long and cover approximately three miles of ground. Drivers, it would be wise to leave your cars in the vicinity of McGolrick Park in Greenpoint.

Click here for tickets, and as always- a limited number of walk ups will be welcomed- but for safety reasons we need to limit the group to a manageable size. Contact me at this email if you desire further details.

extreme aspirations

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

Obligation had carried me away from Astoria yesterday, and upon my return, I discovered this scene playing out. A police cruiser, taxi, and two other vehicles had been smashed. I checked with one of the officers on the scene, who told me that it seemed as if his compatriots who were in the wreck were going to be OK. I missed all the action, apparently.

Additional inquiries regarding the event were offered to the multitudes of neighbors milling about, and one of them volunteered to guest blog.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The following text was received from today’s guest blogger- a member of our local gentry, a yenta, and itinerant area wag who wishes to be called Mr. Blogovich.

Blogovich is a respectably sturdy Croat of long neighborhood affiliation and good reputation, despite his bizarre and unconventional manner of dress. His comments and observations follow in italics:

“Pieced together from many perspectives:

The police car came into the intersection doing 80-100, sirens and lights going.

It clipped the dip in the street, back right tire probably popping and locking there.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It went down about 200-300 feet, fishtailed to the right, its back right bumper slapping into the bumper of the white Nissan Sentra.

Impact and momentum pushed it to the left side of the street. It went about 30 feet to impact with a black SUV with cement bags in its back hatch.

This lifted the black SUV up a bit and piled it directly into a taxi cab that was parked in front of it, with a spray of cement powder flying everywhere.

Three very lucky people were standing about 6 feet from the place of initial impact. A foot worth of tilt to the left and the cop car would have plowed into them and taken them out.

- photo by Mr. Blogovich

Directly after the impact with the black SUV the back end of the cop car swerved to the left and impacted with the black iron fence next to XXXXX’s house.

It was at this point I booked down the street shirtless.

I got there in time to see the two cops staggering slightly out of the car. The airbags deployed. I shouted, “Are you guys okay?”

The driving officer immediately asked, “Did anyone see the little girl I swerved for?” or some such.

Why did he not ask, “Is the little girl alright?”

- photo by Mr. Blogovich

Oil was cascading out of the bottom. The car was still on. A bystander told the passenger cop to turn the motor off.

I offered them water if needed, asked them if they were ok. The driving officer said, ” I’ll be okay if I get a witness who saw the little girl.”

The response sirens were almost immediate. Not ten seconds after I arrived on the scene.

The response was IMMENSE.

  • Conservative estimates:
  • 8 cop cars, all told.
  • 4 fire trucks.
  • 4-5 ambulances. These are not counting the response vehicles that didn’t even turn down the street.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The street became congested with the response team.

Cops pulled all tools and gear out of the car. The two cops service belts were stored away.

All the owners of each vehicle were interviewed.

Oddly, at least initially, the three main witnesses who could have nearly died, were not.”

Wow, says a humble narrator. Thanks to Mr. Blogovich for all the details, and use of his photos.


Click for details on Mitch Waxman’s
Upcoming boat tours of Newtown Creek

July 22nd, 2012 NEXT SUNDAY- There are Just a few tickets left, don’t miss out

Working Harbor Committee Newtown Creek Boat Tour

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 18, 2012 at 2:27 am

profound discouragement

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

Odd things occur during the night, here in the rolling hills of Astoria.

Just last week, a thief arrived in the small hours of the night and stole two cement planters from in front of the building where Newtown Pentacle HQ is located. The planters were simple things, but quite heavy, and had stood outside the entry way to this building for decades (as I have been told by my neighbors). A stocky man and powerfully built, as revealed by security camera footage, pulled his car up to the curb and purloined the items in under a minute.

His manner was strange, displaying a jerky style of locomotion and there was something just “not right” about his appearance.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Later in the week, a series of loud “pops” echoed through the night.

Fireworks were thought the culprit, detonations of which are a fairly common occurrence in the neighborhood, but area wags were set to wonder- and more than wonder- when a small army of Fire Department Personnel arrived in duty uniform and deployed in large numbers across several blocks. High above, helicopters circled, and the FDNY employees were observed operating a series of metering instruments.

Suddenly, they all returned to their units and left.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The Police too have been busy in the area of late, and several nocturnal arrests of unlikely seeming suspects have also aroused rumormongering and gossip amongst the gentry.

More than once have I noticed the local constabulary collecting stricken or unconscious men off the street. These have not been the “usual suspects” either- the familiar cast of local inebriates or opiate devotees who provide regular annoyance and predictable chaos. Many of these men seem to be foreign born, display a low and common character, are oddly tattooed, and universally bear either craniofacial injuries or deformities. Often they are screaming something in an unintelligible and unfamiliar language, which Croat, Egyptian, and Greek alike refer to as some sort of gibberish.

Something odd seems to be going on, here amongst the concrete devastations of Western Queens…


Click for details on Mitch Waxman’s
Upcoming walking and boat tours of Newtown Creek, and Staten Island’s Kill Van Kull

June 30th, 2012- Working Harbor Committee Kill Van Kull walk

for June 30th tickets, click here for the Working Harbor Committee ticketing page

July 8th, 2012- Atlas Obscura Walking Tour- The Insalubrious Valley

for July 8th tickets, click here for the Atlas Obscura ticketing page

July 22nd, 2012- Working Harbor Committee Newtown Creek Boat Tour

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 25, 2012 at 1:39 am


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