Responding to concerns about last year’s Halloween violence, in which teens were caught on film by GerritsenBeach.net throwing rocks and hammers at pedestrians and motorists, Deputy Inspector Georgios Mastrokostas laid out the beginning of a plan to get the community involved in its own safekeeping.
The plea to parents came as Councilman Lew Fidler and local residents asked the precinct to come up with a plan preventing a repeat of last year’s mayhem during a meeting of the 61st Precinct Community Council last night. The deputy inspector said they’ll be putting together a more comprehensive plan following meetings with the community, and acknowledged that “the majority of my problems on Halloween are coming from Gerritsen.”
The key to solving that problem, he said, is to get more involvement from parents, and to try restricting access to “the weeds” – the overgrown fields along Gerritsen Avenue that provide an unpatrolable safe haven for mischief makers.
“I need to get the parents involved,” said Mastrokostas. Working with community members may provide a deterrent to would-be Halloween vandals, he said. “If my cops are out there with, say, Mr. Smith, and Johnny Jones is in the weeds, don’t you think he’d think twice about making mischief if Mr. Smith knows Johnny Jones?”
But before parents even get involved, the precinct is also devising a plan to keep kids out of the fields. They’ll be assigning officers to guard the area earlier in the day and block teens from entering the weeds.
“The key is to get out and prevent kids from going into the weeds,” he said. “The weeds are the problem. You’re not getting this mischief on the side streets. It’s the weeds.”
The community has also requested an NYPD SkyWatch, a mobile watch tower equipped with cameras, spotlights and a station for officers to keep guard. However, requests for the SkyWatch and on-the-ground camera teams must be approved by NYPD brass, and they may not agree that Gerritsen Beach warrants it.
Barring such high-tech solutions, the deputy inspector said the best plan would definitely involve parents.
“I don’t want a repeat of last year,” he said. “I’ll do whatever I can, but if I can get some help from the community, I think that’s what the key to solve the problem is.”
However, in a community where parents expressed more outrage against the blogger who exposed the violence than over their children’s behavior, calling him a pedophile, we have to wonder how cooperative with police they’ll be.
GerritsenBeach.net also covered last night’s meeting. Check out their take.