Cops have close eye on area parks

In the wake of a shooting in Owl’s Head Park and a series of robberies committed by teens in Leif Ericson Park near 67th Street, the 68th Precinct says it’s stepping up patrols at both.

“We look for groups of kids who may be wearing gang colors, and we break them up and investigate,” said Deputy Inspector Eric Rodriguez, the commanding officer of the precinct.

The cops who patrol the parks also watch for graffiti (which Rodriguez said may contain gang insignias), alcohol use and marijuana use, as well as keep an eye open for the occasional dispute between groups playing a pick-up ball game on a field and the organizations that actually have the permit for the field.

But those crimes aren’t the only problem in the parks. Lesser offenses include illegal barbecuing.

“There are sometimes large groups of people who have birthday parties and unpermitted events,” said Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10. “The problems come when the garbage and charcoal detritus is left behind and stays over the weekend, because then you have creatures — from raccoons to rats — coming to look for food.”

The bottom line, Rodriguez warned during the June meeting of the precinct’s community council, is that illegal behavior in area parks is not going to be overlooked.

“If you’re going to hang out there and drink, we’re going to be there and summons you,” he said. “If you’re going to hang out there with large groups of kids, we’re going to break up the groups. If you’re going to go up there and barbecue, we’re going to be there. We’re going to summons you.”

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