Queens Week: District Attorney Brown Takes Some Credit For Borough's Decreasing Crime Rate
Crime in Queens, like the rest of the city, has decreased in the last two decades, and that is partly because of the borough's district attorney, who has been on the job for nearly 22 years. Borough reporter Ruschell Boone spoke with Queens' chief prosecutor, District Attorney Richard Brown.
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He's a bit older, grayer and not as healthy as he once was, but Queens District Attorney Richard Brown is still going strong. With nearly 22 years at the helm, he has no plans to retire.
"I'm enjoying what I'm doing. I have a wonderful staff. I would like to think that we are making a substantial contribution," said Brown.
Now in his sixth term, Brown, a former judge and counsel to Governor Hugh Carey, was first appointed and then elected to the office in 1991. Now, he often runs unopposed.
Considered a soft-spoken but tough prosecutor, Brown says crime was high when he took office. The borough led the city in car thefts and there were 361 murders that year.
"This past year, we had about 82 [murders]. We had about 52,000 reported cars stolen in 1991 and last year we were under 3,000," Brown said.
Crime is also down citywide.
"We as prosecutors are entitled to share in the credit," said Brown.
Never one to shy away from the camera, Brown is a very visible district attorney who has been at the center of several high-profile cases at the Queens Criminal Courthouse.
The most notable was the 2008 criminal trial of three police officers involved in the Sean Bell shooting. Some residents found fault with the DA's office after the officers were acquitted.
"I think we all learned a lot and I would like to think that most fair minded people felt that we had done a very credible job," said Brown.
There was also the Wendy's fast food chain massacre in 2000. John Taylor and an accomplice are serving life sentences for gagging, tying up and shooting seven employees execution style during a robbery. Two victims managed to survive.
"I will never forget being in the basement in that refrigerator," said Brown.
Known for showing up at crime scenes at all hours of the day and night, the district attorney said he never lost his lust for the job.
"It's an exciting borough and there's always something going on," said Brown.