Urban Park Ranger Andrew Marsala (Photo: The Chief-Leader/Andrew Hinderaker)
THOUGHT HE WAS DOING HIS JOB: Urban Park Ranger Andrew Marsala said he was reprimanded for apprehending a man in Prospect Park who was found with an illegal handgun, with his superiors saying he should have called police instead. ‘They don’t like it when we do enforcement,’ he said. ‘All they had to do was say, ‘Good job,’ and I would have been happy with that.’
When Urban Park Ranger Andrew Marsala subdued a “menacing” man in Prospect Park and found he was carrying a handgun loaded with an illegal clip, he didn’t expect to receive a medal. But he also didn’t expect to be told he had screwed up, according to the Chief.
“They don’t like it when we do enforcement,” said Mr. Marsala of his superiors in the Parks Department. “They said, ‘Why didn’t you just call the police?’ I was like, ‘And let him get away?’’’
Wasn’t Just Glad to See Her
On patrol in Prospect Park, Mr. Marsala was told by a woman that a nearby man was masturbating in public whenever she went by him.“I stopped him, I called her over, and when she said this was the guy, he ran,” he said. “I chased, I apprehended him, and in doing a search I found a gun, loaded with a 15-bullet magazine.”
Both the gun and the magazine were illegal. The man was also carrying two bags of marijuana, Ranger Marsala said. “The guy was obviously a menace to society.” He was interviewed after his union, District Council 37 Local 983, protested outside City Hall Nov. 15 over the lack of police data on crimes in parks.
Mr. Marsala claimed he was told by his superiors that he should have called the police instead of directly intervening. Officials from Local 983 said he was told his job could be at risk, although that threat vanished after pushback from the union.
“All they had to do was say, ‘Good job,’ and I would have been happy with that,” Mr. Marsala said of his bosses.
Local 983 Vice President Joe Puleo said Mr. Marsala had acted within his duties. “Urban Park Rangers mostly do tours, children’s lectures, things of that sort in the park,” he said. “But they are 24-hour Peace Officers.”
The Parks attitude, he charged, was “If you see something, do nothing.” He said that the message they imparted to their enforcement officers was “to issue summonses for dogs off the leash, rather than stop criminals.”
The Parks Department declined to comment, saying it was a Police Department matter.
The Chief - November 21, 2011 -
A Walk In The Park - November 4, 2011 - By Geoffrey Croft