It was founded after homes in the Cord Meyer section of Forest Hills became targets of arsonists and the theft of car rims in Kew Gardens Hills.
“Our mission is to help the community be as safe as possible so that residents can continue to enjoy their lives,” said Yoni Fricker, who founded Queens Shmira with Hiski Mierov and Shaya Lloyd. “Police can only be so many places at one time, and you realize that you need to do your part in assisting them with their job.”
While on routine patrols, any activity that arouses suspicion is on their radar. Volunteers are required to patrol for a minimum of four hours a week
“Patrols are determined by where they live, which doesn’t mean they don’t patrol other areas, but that is their starting point,” said Mierov. “If they see a person looking into cars, they advise the dispatch center and more units assist in watching and reporting to NYPD if a crime has been committed.”
“We live and raise our families in Queens and sometimes take for granted its peace and tranquility,” added Fricker. “So why not give back in some way shape or form?”
Queens Shmira has developed a partnership with the recently launched Forest Hills & Rego Park Graffiti Cleanup Initiative, eliminating graffiti from commercial properties.
Last week, Queens Shmira launched a fundraiser to cover expenses incurred during the pandemic, and $151,275 was raised in just days.
“When the pandemic hit, we immediately reached out to the public and offered services that we don’t normally do,” said Fricker. “We helped many people shop, as well as picked up medication and distributed free oximeters.
“The fundraiser will allow us to acquire the vital equipment that we need to not only protect our members, but to better assist the community,” he added. “We feel overwhelmed by the fact that the community helped us reach our goal.”
“We are hoping to purchase patrol vehicles, as well as equipment such as radios, body cameras, vests, first aid kits, and flashlights,” said volunteer Abraham Pinkhasov. “Equipping our members properly and safely is our largest priority.”
Queens Shmira’s goal is to expand the organization to a point where a 24/7 patrol can be established.
“There are times when you need to sacrifice time with your family to help the community,” said Fricker. “The reward at the end of the day is knowing that people are continuing to feel safe and have someone to call and assist them when in need.”
For volunteer opportunities, visit qbspshmira.org and submit an application. An interview and background check will follow.