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Crowd patrol: Police beef up Bridge Park force ahead of spring break

On watch: Police will station more boots on the ground in Brooklyn Bridge Park starting in March to mitigate potentially large spring-break crowds, following last year's forced evacuation of hundreds of teens from Pier 2.
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This green space is turning blue.

Cops are deploying more boots on the ground in Brooklyn Bridge Park ahead of kids’ week-long spring break from school, following authorities’ forced evacuation of crowds from the meadow on an unusually warm April day last year, the 84th Precinct’s executive officer announced on Monday.

Captain Tyrice Miller said his command will dispatch one lieutenant, three sergeants, and 24 men and women in blue to patrol the sprawling green space along the East River starting in early March, before schools close from Mar. 30–Apr. 6. The amped up force contains nearly twice as many officers than typically patrol the park in colder months, and about eight more than were on the scene last Apr. 11 when police claim they didn’t expect hundreds of teens to pile onto Pier 2, ultimately forcing authorities to drive the kids from the meadow and down local streets to many residents’ frustrations.

“Last year we pretty much got caught off guard — one day it was 35 degrees and the next day it turned to 80 degrees,” Miller said before attendees of Community Board 2’s joint Parks and Recreation and Youth Committee meeting. “So this way, everybody is in place by mid-March. And if, for whatever reason, it turns 80 degrees on Feb. 28, then we will request additional mobilization down to the park.”

Brooklyn Bridge Park stewards will also station officials from the Department of Parks and Recreation’s Parks Enforcement Patrol, including three sergeants and 12 officers, to prepare for potentially large spring-break crowds, according to a meadow spokeswoman, who said an additional 10 officers are deployed in the park during its peak season from June through October.

But the presence of extra men and women in uniform could transform the park’s leisurely atmosphere into that of a totalitarian police state, according to a Clinton Hill resident who co-chairs the board’s Youth Committee.

“I think what is a little concerning is that it seems like we’re responding to this as a way of policing bodies and people,” said Tamara McCaw.

Other civic-group members suggested park leaders hang signs around the popular Pier 2 — which houses a roller rink and handball and basketball courts — that clearly state its capacity and explain the circumstances that would lead to an evacuation similar to last April’s, so that if police take action it doesn’t seem like they are arbitrarily targeting youngsters, many of whom are kids of color, hanging out there.

“Maybe have some singange, not when will an evacuation happen, but in the event we have to freeze, ‘This is what you can expect as a park resident,’ ” said Nicholas Ferreira, who lives Downtown and also sits on the Youth Committee. “I think that would make people think, ‘Okay, well, this actually exists — it’s not because it’s a bunch of brown people on the pier.’ ”

One Brooklyn Heights resident who witnessed officials defuse a large group of teens gathered in the park on an unusually warm day during schools’ midwinter break last February described their behavior — which she said escalated from authorities telling the kids to leave the meadow to them demanding they leave the neighborhood — as “inhumane.”

“It looked like they were being moved like cattle,” said Santia Palliccia. “I’m concerned that’s just the manner in which the officers are trained.”

Park honchos admitted they poorly handled last year’s forced evacuation, and said they are brainstorming ways to better communicate with patrons, but have not decided on a formal plan and said they can’t put up capacity signs because the maximum number of people allowed on the piers is contextual.

“We probably could have communicated better and that is something we are paying a lot of attention to,” Brooklyn Bridge Park spokeswoman Sarah Krauss said during Monday’s meeting. “We haven’t set a written plan. We’re thinking and talking about how we can improve our communicat­ion.”

The city also installed cameras along Joralemon Street last June to better monitor the foot traffic to and from the waterfront meadow, after some residents claimed that park-goers-turned-vandals were targeting their houses.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 10:09 am, January 17, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Fred from Windsor Terrace says:
Signage...., yes, that’s the problem.
Jan. 12, 9:05 am
Vanessa from Brooklyn says:
The park was sold to the public as a recreational green space for Brooklyn. But now that those luxury high rise condos are on the fast track to being completed, our public officials plan to "mobilize" the police to keeps kids from Brooklyn out of what it is fast turning into a luxury condo community for Wall Street billionaires/millionaires.
Jan. 12, 9:19 am
Jay from Downton says:
No surprise...black and brown kids hardly welcome at the park!
Jan. 12, 11:41 am
sensible from Brooklyn says:
The police will be there to protect everyone, including the teenagers. It's a public park. Let's not get ridiculous.
Jan. 12, 11:44 am
Mustache Pete from Windsor Terrace says:
The police are needed there. I am no NYPD apologist, but I have witnessed youth violence at Brooklyn Bridge Park.

I also pass by at least one violent incident a month in downtown Brooklyn after middle school and high school youth are out of school. These incidents get uglier all the time and someone will get hurt.
Jan. 12, 12:05 pm
Vanessa from Brooklyn says:
Nothing is done to stop the disruption of construction noise, congestion, and frightening gigantic cranes swinging concrete slabs over areas where kids might be playing. But when luxury condo developers fear "disruptions" from crowds of Brooklyn kids then police are mobilized to keep them out.
Jan. 12, 12:07 pm
sensible from Brooklyn says:
If there's a public safety concern and the NYPD will be on hand to ensure good behavior. That's what this is about. It's smart. Teenagers do get in fights...all over the country, not just in Brooklyn. Time to be reasonable people. Vanessa, no one is restricting the teens from entering the park and construction is a separate matter. Pete, I'm sure teenagers got into fights when you were in high school.
Jan. 12, 3:49 pm
Nicole from Brooklyn says:
I don't know Vanessa, when there was a public event in Dumbo and it was swarmed most certainly by a different type of mob, behavior did not turn violent and destructive. Seriously, these kids need to learn to respect public places!
Jan. 12, 5:32 pm
ujh from Downtown Brooklyn says:
How much longer do you call unruly teenagers "kids?"

Posting clear guidelines re maximum occupancy before an event is a sensible thing to do. Is this too complicated for the NYPD?

Vanessa from Brooklyn, you're on a decidedly wrong track!
Jan. 12, 6:04 pm
Boris from Borough Park says:
Ujh, your are correct; “kids” is not the right term. I favor perhaps “barbarian hordes.”
Jan. 12, 8:53 pm
Daniel from Red Hook says:
They are kids. They're kids with no self respect.
Jan. 12, 9:11 pm
Jermaine from Cobble Hill says:
Goodbye public housing. Goodbye public schools. Goodbye public Parks.
Jan. 12, 11:15 pm
Edwin from Bed-Stuy says:
To "Jay from Downton"

That is a stupid thing for you to say.Black and brown kids are always welcomed at the park.There is so much to do at Brooklyn Bridge Park such as roller skating,basketball,handball,bocce,soccer and even playing football at either the soccer field at Pier 5 or the playturf at Pier 2.Why is it necessary for some teenagers to start trouble at a place that is free to the public and most of all beautiful with amazing views of the city skyline? Maybe they should learn how to act and stop playing the race card all the time.It is an amazing park to have fun and not to start trouble
Jan. 15, 4:59 am
Homey from Crooklyn says:
Yeah because we all know there are NEVER problems when groups of these "teens" congregate...LOL
Jan. 16, 8:35 am
Judi Francis from Cobble Hill says:
This park was very badly planned which has resulted in the enduring problems, particularly on Pier 2. The community's original plan also included an indoor, year round field house giving kids of all ages a place to go that would have been easier to supervise. The real problems with this park are a result of 1. ignoring the NYC parks department's expertise and ignoring the community's many, many recommendations, 2.the administrators' focus on building housing vs. creating a park, 3. the utter lack of experience - an architect ill skilled in urban parks and the fact that this is not a park run by park professionals. A lot of missed opportunities that will no doubt be corrected by a total re-do in 30 years. In the meantime...
Jan. 16, 10:52 am

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