Divine intervention: Guardian Angels returning to Brooklyn - Brooklyn Paper

Divine intervention: Guardian Angels returning to Brooklyn

Red-y or not: The Guardian Angels, a red-beret-clad group of vigilante crime fighters, will start patrolling the L, A, and J subway lines in Brooklyn starting on Monday.
Photo by Louise Wateridge

Heaven help us!

Civilian anti-crime group the Guardian Angels will patrol Brooklyn after a decade-long absence, in response to a spate of transit slashings — the most recent of which went down on a 3 train in Brownsville. Mayor DeBlasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton claim crime is at an all-time low, but the group’s leader says that is not the case — and he is not worried about ruffling officials’ feathers if it makes the city safer.

“I don’t think the police commissioner — who’s had a good relationship with us in the past — or DeBlasio are pleased with this,” said Curtis Sliwa, who founded the Guardian Angels when the city was wracked with crime in 1979. “They’re big on saying the city is the safest it’s ever been since Peter Stuyvesant was here since the Dutch colonized New York. But that’s not the case in the subways.”

Bratton tried to downplay the Angels’ resurgence as an indictment on his policing strategies during a recent radio appearance on 970 The Answer.

“It’s nothing new,” Bratton said of the Angels’ return. “There’s about 10 of them left, I guess, in the organization. So, I don’t see it as a big, sensational story. They’ve been doing it off and on over the years. Their role is to see something, say something. They’re not expected to engage in anything — they don’t have any powers.”

But Sliwa refuted the notion the Angels are glorified 911-callers.

“We’ve never been just eyes and ears, that’s a waste of time,” Sliwa said. “If there’s an actual crime in progress, we’ll exercise our right to make a citizens arrest.”

The group is mobilizing after reports of eight subway slashings citywide — including two in Brooklyn — in the last month, but they’ll be on the lookout for anything fishy, he said.

“There’s pervs,” Sliwa said. “Sex assaults are up — and strong-arm robberies — so there’s a number of key crimes that are up in the subway that have nothing to do with the slashings.”

The vigilant civilians, known for their signature red berets and jackets, will deploy in groups of four from the Broadway Junction subway station in East New York starting Feb. 8 — they’ll board J, A, and L trains, bringing their campaign of justice into Canarsie, Williamsburg, Bushwick, Downtown, Brownsville, and Beford-Stuyvesant, according to Sliwa.

Angels spend three months learning cardiopulmonary resuscitation, first aid, law related to crime-fighting, and martial arts before heading out on the beat, Sliwa said.

The police department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.

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