Pastor Fights Crime

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A Yorkville pastor decided to improve conditions near St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church just off the corner of First Avenue and 87th Street. Identifying that there had been trouble brewing there, and that he believed it was spilling over to his parishioners, he took matters directly to police.

Boniface noticed a man slumped over in a back pew at St. Joseph's. He confronted him by name about who was selling drugs to him.

When the man shuffled out, a "filthy needle" was left on the bench, according to a story in The New York Times.

That was the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.

Father Boniface decided it was time to take action. He circulated a petition to rid the corner of activity including drug dealing. He collected more than 700 signatures, all hand written. Next, he wrote a letter to the commander of the 19th Police Precinct of the New York Police Department, citing a group of people who loitered on the corner. He included the petition.

"We are dismayed that the children who attend our school can see the same things that adults can, including public urination and defecation, indecent exposure, prostitution, and extreme drunken and drug addicted behavior," he wrote.

The downside was that Father Boniface received some hate mail warning him, "Be careful when you report, people selling drugs on 87th St."

On June 17 and 18, the corner was largely cleared of the usual hangers-on. A police van was parked there, and a young officer in a powder-blue polo shirt said he knew all about the contention. "We're on it, 24 hours a day," the young officer told the Times.

Calls to the church office revealed that Father Boniface had been advised by NYPD not to speak to reporters further.

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