Police-shy Harlemites and seniors who may not be able to make it to the 28th precinct’s community council meetings may soon be able to connect with cops over a Skype-style video application. But the online get-togethers, known as Spreecast community meetings have hit a snag in Queens.
The NYPD wants to have a video chat with you.
The only problem: The Skype-style video application the department has been testing in Queens seems to be full of bugs.
And now, the concept is coming to Harlem.
The department chose the 28th Precinct to host a Spreecast community meeting, hoping to increase dialogue between Deputy Inspector Kevin Williams and police-shy residents.
Seniors, and others who may have a hard time attending their precinct community council meetings, were also being targeted.
Williams recently told Harlemites about the e-meetings, stressing the online get-togethers will not replace his monthly in-person talks.
That’s probably a good thing, because a similar video conference, hosted on the Spreecast website in Forest Hills, crashed.
“It started out fine but then we ran into a technical glitch,” said Heidi Chain, president of the 112th Precinct community council.
“When it’s working, it’s a great way to reach out to a tremendous amount of people,” she added.
Chain talked to her computer screen from home while Capt. Thomas Conforti recorded himself from the stationhouse, but the feed quickly crashed, forcing the December web gathering to go dark.
“The goal is to reach out to people without them leaving the house,” Chain said.
The Queens precinct was the first chosen to host a video conference. Harlem will be the second known spot. The NYPD cannot set a date for the program’s Harlem debut until the technical difficulties are worked out, an NYPD spokesman told the Daily News on Friday.
Columbia University law Prof. Jeffrey Fagan said the department’s sudden interest in Internet-age communication needs to be tracked.
Delores Chauney, 75, eyes the Spreecast website on an iPad inside her Harlem senior center. Delores Chauney, 75, eyes the Spreecastwebsite on an iPadinside her Harlem senior center.
“It’s important to pay attention — that community meetings don’t become video interactions over time,” Fagan said.
Delores Chauney, 75, eyes the Spreecast website on an iPad inside her Harlem senior center. Delores Chauney, 75, eyes the Spreecast website on an iPad inside her Harlem senior center.
Meanwhile, Manhattan police sources pointed out that uptown’s sizeable elderly population was the main reason why the neighborhood was chosen.
“Harlem has a lot of seniors who can’t get out,” a police source said.
The decision baffled Rimas Jasin, the executive director of Presbyterian Senior Services, which has six centers across the Bronx and upper Manhattan.
“There are a lot of older adults still learning to use technology,” said Jasin, noting that for seniors who still lack basic computing skills, the chats might as well be conducted in Greek.
Still, cops should not assume that graying uptowners lack the savvy and skils to master the web, said seniors at the Bethany Development Outreach center on W. 124th St..
“It’s good to get information, said Delores Chauney, 75. and her friend, Gladys Jones, agreed.
“We are smart,” said Jones, 68. “We aren’t stupid.”
By Simone Weichselbaum / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS