The NYPD will increase its presence in Central Brooklyn and other neighborhoods across the five boroughs this Labor Day weekend to stop large crowds from gathering and prevent possible violence during holiday revelry, city officials announced on Thursday.
Extra officers will be deployed predominantly in Central Brooklyn, according to Chief of Patrol Fausto Pichardo, and will be dressed in both traditional NYPD blues and plainclothes. Although Mayor Bill de Blasio has canceled all large September gatherings like the annual West Indian Day Parade and J’ouvert smaller gatherings are still expected to take place inside homes and small streets.
“Please for the safety of yourself, your family and your community, if there is a gathering it has to be kept to under 50 people,” de Blasio said. “It has to be kept smart, you can not take a chance on people’s health. Community organizations in Central Brooklyn will spread leaflets warning residents to not participate in large gatherings “for their own safety” beginning Thursday,” de Blasio added.
“We are in the midst of this pandemic, so while tradition has dictated in the past that we gather together, this is not the time, ” said Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, who joined Mayor de Blasio during his morning press conference. ” I have encouraged everyone to keep Carnival in their hearts and to partake in the virtual activities. Clarke also urged Central Brooklynites to not gather in crowds as a means to avoid creating space for “unscrupulous shooters” given the uptick in gun violence the city has seen this summer.
Just in August, the NYPD reported 242 shootings compared to 91 last year.
New York City Chief of Department Terence Monahan said the department would send out “hundreds” of more officers into neighborhoods where the department has “historically increased its patrolling” for the holiday weekend.
“We are not looking to arrest people, they are out to celebrate,” Monahan told reporters. “But we can’t have the violence…And let me be very clear, those who cause violence and endanger lives can expect to be arrested by these same officers,” Monahan told reporters.
Some of the extra officers working this weekend will be former anti-crime officers tasked with preventing gang violence by patrolling neighborhoods in unmarked cars, Monahan added.
“Our job is to intersect them before they come together,” Monahan said.
The New York Police Department was able to secure overtime for officers working this weekend, Monahan told reporters, the city grapples with the reality of budget hole caused by the economic downturn induced by the novel coronavirus pandemic. After weeks of protest calling for the shrinking of the NYPD’s budget and overall police reform, Mayor Bill de Blasio claimed that the city cut $1 billion from the department in the 2021 fiscal budget. Those alleged savings included slashing the NYPD’s overtime budget by $ 268 million.
The city’s Independent Budget Office predicted that that would not happen and instead anticipates that the department will exceed its overtime cap by $400 million. “NYPD’s overtime budget was never cut to zero,” de Blasio spokesperson Julia Arredondo told amNewYork Metro. “The NYPD is working to arrange officers and resources within the budget that was approved for the department.”
Street commanders will attempt to break up crowds when needed and officers patrolling in vehicles will use audio recordings to warn crowds to disperse, according to Monahan. The NYPD is also setting up more light towers on street corners ahead of the weekend.
This story originally appeared on amny.com.