Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Security At McCarren Pool Dramatically Increased After Latest Incident

“Well, what do you want me to say. O.K., we’ll put a cop next to every lifeguard in the city. Come on, think about it! - Mayor Bloomberg - July 2.

A Brooklyn North Task Force officer keeps a watchful eye on pool activities yesterday evening. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on image to enlarge.


By Geoffrey Croft

Apparently Mayor Bloomberg did "think about it" but only after two New York City Police officers were injured at the pool a few hours after his remarks and after facing intense media coverage.

On Tuesday, as more than ten media outlets converged on McCarren Park Pool a phalanx of police officers descended throughout the day.

All Hands On Deck.
What A Difference A Day Makes. The city dramatically increased the number of police officers assigned to McCarren Park Pool yesterday going from 2 to 20 a day after Monday's incident where two officers were hurt. More security has been added today as the Parks Department was forced to bring in additional PEP including supervisors, leaving no dedicated officers available to patrol more than four thousand park acres in Brooklyn.

Seven NYPD police including a plain clothes officer on the pool deck yesterday evening. The locker behind them to the left was where a woman had her purse stolen on Monday afternoon with her son.

The two regular officers assigned to the pool from the 94 Pct. were joined by an additional five from Brooklyn North Task Force for the morning section. That number ballooned to 20 officers for the violence-prone afternoon session as officers were pulled from numerous precincts.

"City Hall is pretty embarrassed by all the press out here," an officer said at the scene. "Not sure how long we're going to be out here. We're stretched pretty thin ourselves."

Meanwhile the Parks Department's press office was denying that more security had even been added, while also desperately trying to downplay the incidents.

"We always have a few incidents and we always handle them," said Park spokesperson Vickie Karp, responding "angrily" to criticism that there is not enough security.

"Two cops going to the hospital, lifeguards assaulted with no arrests, that's called handling it," a PEP officer said in response. "We have two officers and NYPD two for 1500 people and parks is advertising that. They're proud of that, and at a site that has a history."

"The pool has been open for what five days," said another officer. "This is ridiculous. We need help. I can't wait for these people (current park officials) to go."

The press office also spent the day denying media access to the pool deck despite repeated requests.

"They only want us to cover only happy things," quipped one broadcaster referring to the opening of the pool last Thursday which the media was given access to the entire facility.

"Isn't this a public pool," asked a photographer from a large daily paper, who also wondered if their legal department should get involved.

The dramatic increase of police was not the only drama of the day - two lockers were broken into bringing the two-day total to seven. One person had his wallet stolen and a second some clothes. Another patron his brand new white I-Phone 4G stolen when he put it down for "five minutes," while he showered.

Willamsburg resident Joseph Delaney reports getting his white I-Phone stolen on Tuesday to officers. (Photo: Kathleen Horan/WNYC)

A few kids were removed from the pool and few more were denied entry. One threatened a PEP Sgt. after he had been arguing with NYPD officers because he and his friends were not allowed in.

A male argues with an officer in front of the pool after he was denied access. "I'm going to ask you one more time to move away from the entrance before you get locked up," the officer said.

“I’m gonna come back and smoke your ass,” the teenager ranted to a PEP Sgt. a minute later. “If not me, someone else is!”

"The reason it closed years ago was because of fights and now we're like right back where we started, ” said elementary teacher Lisa Kasimo, who works and lives near the park.

Beginning today an additional eight Park Enforcement (PEP) officers including supervisors are being detailed to the pool. The personnel being assigned include officers from the PEP academy. This leaves the entire borough without a single dedicated PEP officer to patrol Brooklyn's more than four thousand acres of parkland.

"We have nobody in the borough, its a joke," said another officer. "We have no coverage. We can't respond to calls. It's open season out there."

According to Parks Commissioner Adrain Benepe PEP have lost 42% of their work force since 2008.

Meanwhile swarms of illegal venders selling everything from water to ices to and hot dogs were doing brisk business throughout the day near the entrance and in the park. Some venders worked the long lines that wrapped around to Bayard Avenue. Multiple venders sold toys in the adjacent playground. Two Polish girls in short, shorts passed out Red Bull samples to people waiting on the line.

One enterprising woman sold locks a few feet from the entrance to the pool. Locks are required for entry into the pool and have become a big issue as many people are showing up without them while others are bringing really cheap ones that can easily be broken into.

Checking Locks. A PEP Sgt. checks a flimsy lock of a pool patron. There have been multiple locker brake-ins at McCarren Park Pool.

One officer demonstrated how easy it was to pick them.

"Some people come to enjoy the pool, while others come because it's an opportunity to steal," an officer explained. "

According to police sources both officers involved in Monday's altercation are out on sick leave.

One of three men arrested Monday for allegedly punching a cop in the face, Rodoldo Torres, 20, was arraigned early yesterday in night court on two counts of assault. Torres, who was still wearing his black and white swim trunks and a tank top, was released without bail, according to the Post.

At a press conference on Monday a few hours before the violent incident where two NYPD officers were injured, Bloomberg became nasty when a reporter asked him about Friday's violence, an incident he apparently knew nothing about.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City became confused, and then angered, when asked at an outdoor news conference about a brawl that broke out at a public pool in Brooklyn on Friday, according to the New York Times.

“I had no idea there was an incident. What was the incident? Did someone go swimming?” the mayor asked about the fight, which shut down McCarren Pool and was widely reported in the New York media.

The reporter explained what had happened: Lifeguards had been attacked by rowdy teenagers at the pool, which had been closed for 28 years before it was reopened by the mayor in a public ceremony on Thursday.

“Well, what do you want me to say?” Mr. Bloomberg snapped.

The mayor, who had rolled up the sleeves of his pink oxford shirt, heaped on a dollop of sarcasm — “O.K., we’ll put a cop next to every lifeguard in the city” — before dismissing the question entirely.

“Come on, think about it!” he angrily urged the reporter.

Afterwards, mayoral spokesman, Stu Loeser, attempted to contain the damage and downplayed the attack on the lifeguards.

He said later that Mr. Bloomberg had simply not been briefed on the clash.

“There are scuffles in city schools every single day,” Mr. Loeser wrote in an e-mail. “The mayor doesn’t get a briefing on every scuffle in every school or pool — and certainly not ones where there are zero arrests and medical attention is refused.”

News trucks, police vehicles and officers lined Lorimer Avenue outside the pool.

Read/View More:

McCarren Park Pool plagued by violence since reopening
Fox 5 News - July 4, 2012 - By Lidia Ujkaj

WCBS News - July 3, 2012 - By Don Dahler

WCBS - July 3, 2012 - By Kathryn Brown

New York Post - July 4, 2012 - By Rich Calder and Don Kaplan

DNAinfo - July 4, 2012 - By Mathew Katz

WABC - July 03, 2012 - By Michelle Charlesworth

WNYC - July 3, 2012 - By Kathleen Horan

1010 WINS - July 3, 2012 - By Carol D’Auria

WNBC - July 3, 2012 - By Tracie Strahan

WNBC - July 3, 2012 - By Tracie Strahan

My Fox - July 3, 2012 - Joanne Pileggi

DNAinfo - July 3, 2012 - By Jill Colvin, Jesse Lent

Good Day New York - Fox - July 3, 2012 - By Steve Lacy

Huffington Post - July 3, 2012

New York Magazine - By Joe Coscarelli

Gothamist - July 3, 2012 - By John Del Signore

A Walk In The Park - July 3, 2012 - By Geoffrey Croft

A Walk In The Park - July 2, 2012 - By Geoffrey Croft

A Walk In The Park - July 1, 2012 - By Geoffrey Croft

A Walk In The Park - June 30, 2012 - By Geoffrey Croft

1 comment:

  1. I was denied entrance to the pool for not having a lock even though I was meeting friends at the pool that do have a lock. When did the parks department make a deal with the locks lobby?

    I live 2 blocks from McCarren and have the day off and what better way to spend it than a dip in the new pool.

    I purposefully left my valuables (money, keys, phone) at home understanding there is always a possibility of theft. With me I had 1) a canvas bag containing - sunscreen, coconut water and a towel 2) items on my body - sunglasses, bathing suit, cover up and flip flops.

    I do not consider any of these items of value but the minimum necessary items to enjoy some fun in the sun.

    I was rudely denied access and not even allowed to find my friends. I was told those are the rules and that my things may be stolen. I was perfectly willing to assume that risk and would have gladly signed a waiver stating so. I was chastised by multiple parks employees and police officers. Not my idea of a nice Friday off.

    This is a terrible experience for an activity that is supposed to be 'FUN'.

    I am a 39 year old, gainfully employed tax payer and neighborhood resident.