The Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association praised the 61st Precinct’s Memorial Day response, but requested ways to enhance coordination with the community for a more orderly summer season at last night’s meeting.
The group thanked Sergeant Michael Doyle from the NYPD’s 61st Precinct Community Affairs Unit for the precinct’s work in fostering an incident free day on Memorial Day, when thousands of people shifted there from Coney Island and Brighton Beach following a stabbing. But they also worried that police manpower was not adequate to handle the influx of visitors to the neighborhood, and that summer traffic snafus are not addressed quickly enough.
In the past, the 61st Precinct dispatched officers to direct traffic on Oriental Boulevard near the beach parking lot and in other locations in the community. But MBNA members said that “pockets” of traffic backups still exist.
“In a scenario like that, how does one advise the police that are there, without calling 911, without calling 311?” MBNA public relations director Edmond Dweck asked Doyle. “Could we possibly have access to advising whoever is in charge on the beach that day?”
A sergeant is always in the beach area, coordinating the precinct’s response. Dweck asked for a phone number to call or send texts to in order to instruct them to deploy officers to clear a problem area.
Watch MBNA members asking for direct access and more manpower – story cont’d after video
Parking enforcement also remains and issue. There is currently no side street parking in Manhattan Beach on weekends and holidays during the summer months. Boardmember Al Smaldone criticized the NYPD’s decision to “give a break” to illegally parked vehicles this Memorial Day in light of the influx. He said Manhattan Beach residents can’t invite family to the area because of the parking situation, and so visitors to the community shouldn’t be allowed an exception.
He also criticized the NYPD’s lack of a dedicated Manhattan Beach summer detail like Coney Island has, and said their forces are not effectively deployed.
“The bottom line is reality is reality,” Smaldone said. “You’re doing a great job, but you know what? People tell me when I do 90 percent of my job, ‘You know what, Al? We got someone else who could give us 100 percent’ … Our taxes keep going up and up and up and up. We’re patient people” but the lack of increased manpower despite requests is testing residents’ patience.
Sergeant Doyle said that Captain Mastrokostas routinely requests additional recruits.
“My captain would like more officers,” he said. “Most captains would like more officers,” but with the city’s economic situation there aren’t enough recruits to go around.
He promised to bring the group’s complaints back to the captain, and urged residents to attend the next 61st Precinct Community Council meeting on June 9 at the Bainbridge Center (3093 Ocean Avenue). Captain Mastrokostas will be there.