Daily paper Metro NY checked in with the NYC Parks Department about yesterday’s report in the New York Post that wealthy but anonymous donors, in addition to New York University, acting as part of a self-appointed entity called “The Coalition for a Better Washington Square Park,” were scheduled to hire private “off duty NYPD” cops to police Washington Square Park.
From today’s Metro:
“The Parks Department would not consider such a proposal,” a Parks spokeswoman said. “The NYPD is responsible for crime prevention throughout the city, including in all parks.”
She noted that one member of the Coalition for a Better Washington Square Park — a group of block associations, Fifth Avenue co-ops and others — “expressed interest” in raising money to hire off-duty officers, but said the park is already staffed by Park Enforcement Patrol officers paid for, in part, by NYU.
It does raise the question why Gil Horowitz, et al. (we don’t know who the “et al.” are because they won’t reveal who they are!) were so sure their plan was going to proceed and be implemented that they allowed themselves to be quoted extensively in the Post. I imagine they considered that story quite a feather in their cap. So… despite the supposed nixing of the private security, will their plans to pay for “maintenance” in the park proceed? And will they still be meeting with Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe as stated in the article? There’s probably more to this story, don’t ya think?
Photographer Stacy Walsh Rosenstock weighed in with her thoughts in response to WSP Blog’s post on the topic yesterday with yet another insightful comment:
A security force to protect “the investments made in the park?” Perhaps there’s a dastardly plan to move the fountain 23 feet to the west? Lounge on a closed lawn? Or worse, walk on one of the chain fences?
And what will these security patrols do when they do apprehend such quality of life offenders? Issue a citizen’s violation? Isn’t hiring private security forces to monitor all the plain clothes and under cover police posing as criminals in the park like the tail wagging the dog?
But just to add to the equation, wasn’t Washington Square Park one of the first locations to have NYPD surveillance cameras installed back during the Giuliani administration? Maybe the primary function of this new security patrol can polish the lenses of the surveillance cameras.