Residents: Cops won’t lock up Parkside Playground

Shawn West, whose backyard borders the playground, says he’s fed up with the teens who use the swings and sit on the park’s fences after curfew.
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

Police in Flatbush have promised to give the recently re-opened Parkside Playground its own police detail in the aftermath of a shooting on July 14 — but residents say they’ve yet to see a cop at what they call a havoc-stricken play space.

Police admitted that teenagers and loiterers had become a problem at the park and promised to assist the Parks Department by locking the park up every night when it closes at dusk, in addition to sending regular patrols.

“We’re going to start locking it at dusk so no kids will hang out at there,” promised a source at the 71st Precinct. “A person shouldn’t walk in at nighttime by [his or her] self.”

But residents say that the park — which re-opened to great fanfare after a multi-million dollar renovation in June — has been left dangerously uncontrolled.

“I haven’t seen the gate locked since the park opened,” said Shawn West, whose house borders the playground. “I don’t think young adults need to be playing on the swings and sitting on the fences at night.”

But it doesn’t appear that the cops are closing the gate. A Courier photographer assigned to take shots of the police in their daily action at the park were told not to come — then never showed up to close the park themselves.

West says he’s complained every day — but said he’s been given the run around by the various city departments in charge of the park.

“I used to live in Park Slope and when the park was locked it was locked there,” said West. “Now I call about the park almost every day and I keep getting bounced between the Parks Department and the police.”

A spokeswoman from the Parks Department confirmed that police are responsible for locking up the gate of the park when the park closed at dusk.

Residents had originally complained that the shooting, where cops say a man was shot in the hand in the park around 9 pm — after dusk — could have been avoided.

Neighbors said the police had to secure the park before it became yet another news story.

“Violence and criminality have no place on playgrounds,” said Tim Thomas, a member of Community Board 9 and a blogger in the neighborhood. “Even in the suburbs and rural areas…a certain level of security is assumed wherever young people congregate…it just makes common sense to tend to the fences around a playground and keep the perimeter safe.”

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.

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