A squad of cops in bulletproof vests swooped into an upper Manhattan park and charged seven men with the "crime" of playing chess in an area off-limits to adults unaccompanied by kids -- even though no youngsters were there.
Parks Department First Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh said the rule is "designed to protect children using our playgrounds and to deter inappropriate adult use of space designated specifically for children."
Does it seem excessive?
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What the story won't tell you about is why the NYPD officers issue Criminal Court Summonses.
Twenty Years ago, these tickets were minimally issued and mostly given to people people carrying knives, urinating in public, smoking marijuana and skipping the turnstile in the subways. Now they are given for almost everything. If a park closes at midnight, officers are ticketing people at 12:01. Having a beer at the softball game? Sorry, no beer in the park. Taking a nap on a park bench? Not allowed. And if you are unable to be identified, you are going to be arrested.
Commanding Officers in NY attend Comstat. At Comstat, Commanding Officers are asked "What are you doing about....? Well if he wants a future, the CO better have an answer.
Has it worked for the improvement of NYC? What veterans of the NYPD can forget the details in the Theatre District where we had to chase the hoards of derelicts and undesirables away from Schubert Alley and West 44th Street? We would watch the tourists and theatre patrons leave the theatres in a hurry and catch a cab to flee from the area. The pimps, whores, and predatory criminals that surrounded the famous theatres cast a pall on the area. Even the New York Times needed to have a detail of cops to protect their employees and truck in the loading docks. Just around the block on Eighth Avenue, the pornographic books stores and peepshows seemed to be everywhere. Public urination and even defecation in full view was not an unusual sight on some of the sidestreets. Aggressive and threatening panhandlers confronted the pedestrians who risked walking in the area. The subways were avoided. Waiting on a deserted subway platform was an invitation for trouble. The graffiti on the subway cars was a national disgrace. The stink of urine and feces assaulted the senses in the dank dreariness of the littered platforms.
The four principles that underlie the COMPSTAT process:
First, Accurate and timely intelligence.
Second, rapid deployment of resources
Third, effective tactics.
Fourth, relentless follow-up and assessment.
One of the first arrests I made was of a junkie with heroin, marijuana, and over 200 pills in her bag. I was yelled at because it might entail extra work for the desk officer. The desk officer yelled,"What are you bringing this s*** into my precinct for?" Fifteen years later, when I was the desk officer, I had officers bringing in homeless guys into the precinct for sleeping on a park bench.
In the 1980's , NYC averaged just about 2000 murders a year. In the last 10 years, it has averaged under 900, and has been going down