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August 18, 2010 / Brooklyn news / Park Slope / Meadows of Shame

Exclusive! Park gives litterers free ride but dog owners get bit

for The Brooklyn Paper
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The agency in charge of policing Prospect Park hasn’t written a single summons for litter in the last 20 months — but its officers have written up scores of dog owners for off-leash pets.

In 2009 and so far this year, during a barrage of coverage of filth in Prospect Park by local media outlets, Park Enforcement Patrol officers wrote zero tickets for litter — but issued 147 tickets for dogs that were not on a leash, according to documents obtained by this newspaper.

The NYPD, which also patrols the park, issued only four summonses for litter in the same timeframe — while issuing 50 summonses for dog-related offenses.

“It’s so crazy! I’m floored, really!” said Deanna Zandt, who regularly visits the park with her dog. “Numbers like this show they’re doing nothing to prevent the litter — prevention is key!”

There are typically two to four Park Enforcement Officers stationed in Prospect Park throughout the week, along with six of the so-called PEP officers who patrol the entire borough.

Many park-goers were outraged by the blatant lack of clean-up enforcement, saying it verified what they had been saying for years: that no one is stopping people from disrespecting the park and its tidy users.

Park officials have ramped up public awareness campaigns this year, including an anti-charcoal program, but Zandt and others said that such efforts were ultimately not the most-effective measure.

“There is a difference between me — a volunteer with my shirt on saying, ‘Please don’t litter’ — and a cop or Parks patrol officer saying, ‘You’re in trouble. I just saw you leave a pile of trash and barbecue coals by a tree,’ ” said Zandt. “Instead, they’re spending time on unleashed dogs!”

The stunning statistics left members of FIDO — a dog advocacy group — feeling as agitated as a pooch after he’s eaten a chicken bone.

“They target dog owners and they leave the barbecuers and picnickers — they don’t bother with them!” said FIDO President Tony Chiappelloni, adding, “I’m not saying the two are connected, but this is nothing new.”

Parks Department spokesman Phil Abramson said that the biggest problem in hitting litterers where it hurts is that officers actually have to witness the littering.

“In order to issue summonses, a PEP officer must have to actually see a person leaving the litter behind,” Abramson said. The same officers, of course, have had no problem seeing a dog off a leash, however.

A spokesman for the Prospect Park Alliance added that his group has stepped up its post-mess efforts.

“We have people who hand out trash bags at permitted events,” said the spokesman, Eugene Patron. “We’re certainly trying to raise awareness through our BBQ campaign — but there is obviously an enforcement component as well.”

But that lack of enforcement had left Zandt, who runs a photo blog of uncollected trash in the park, having to keep a her rat terrier on the leash, even during off-leash hours.

“The biggest tragedy is I can’t let my dog off-leash on Sunday through Wednesday because the park is too gross,” said Zandt. “Chicken bones can kill my dog and people leave them everywhere.

“I’m prevented from using a public space as its intended because of other people’s irresponsibility and the park’s unwillingness to really address the issue,” she said.

Filth in Prospect Park has been a hot-button issue for at least the last two summers. It all began when MIH Ventures, an event planning company, left the park looking like the city dump after an unpermitted party last year.

Then last winter, the park was struck by a wave of bizarre happenings that included the illegal dumping of animal entrails in the lake.

As this summer went into full swing, parkgoers were disgusted to find their meadows riddled with trash, despite the park’s ramped up outreach efforts.

A television station also shined a spotlight on the trash in the park, as a reporter strapped on waders and removed a tire in waist-deep muck on his own in a Peabody-worthy segment.

Updated 5:19 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

former sloper from Jersey City says:
I'm a dog owner have lived in both Park Slope (walked my dog in Prospect Park twice daily) and Jersey City. I can assure you that the same thing goes on at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, only to a much larger extent, due to the ghetto nature of the area. Dog owners are clearly targeted and given summonses regularly.

Yet, I have witnessed extended families enjoy huge all-day barbeque picnics and then simply get up and waddle over to their SUVs, taking off without bothering to dispose of their piles of garbage. It's a disgrace and infuriating, esp. when there are large garbage receptacles available --for their convenience--every few feet! I assume the cops are being "PC," afraid to ticket these idiots who abuse the parks and ruin it for the rest of us.

I have to wonder what the park police would do if the converse were true and dog owners were predominantly Hispanic/black and the litterers were mostly caucasian. In that case, the would uphold the double standard and the summonses would go to the litterers. If you are not a minority from the ghetto, you can't win.
Aug. 18, 2010, 12:07 am
I think im waspy but nay from Jersey City? says:
Black People/ Hispanics (latinos?) are to blame for the litter in prospect park.

Actually, no. If i read right.

They're the ones who litter and are then not ticketed because they are minorities? And that somehow makes them immune?

You're obviously cool and need a cooler place with cooler people in it. Stop moving to these "ghetto" spots. You'll usually find "ghetto" types there who probably don't mix well with you.

Your ultimate goal was realized-

you provoked a response.

Being a provocateur in 2010 however---

lol, lame.
Aug. 18, 2010, 8:12 am
Not Goish from Prospect Heights says:
The example in poster #1's may not be that great, but we do have an analogue on the Prospect Park side, when that "MIH Ventures" company's partiers literally trashed the park in 2009, but actually were allowed to come back in 2010. Race does play a part in Prospect Park politics, since the parks enforcement agents are predominately minority in makeup. Simple as that. And dog-walkers and enforcement agents are usually one-on-one incidents, whereas one enforcement agent vs. a whole group of slobs is a different issue.
Aug. 18, 2010, 10:26 am
al pankin from downttown says:
maybe tupper thomas's replacement will get the park cleaned up and run it like a park instead of dump for the miscreants who she seemed to cater to. decent familes will not go into that filty unkempt place...they can't even get the police to ticket the commerical trucks and tractor trailors that park overnight on flatbush ave a ticket. the management of the park is inept...they should try this in central park, they would be fired.
Aug. 18, 2010, 11:19 am
richie rich from parkslope says:
the park rangers and nypd that patrol the prospect park know that people who camp and litter in the parks can't afford to pay the fine.
Aug. 18, 2010, 12:09 pm
noexcuses from PLG says:
I am tired of hearing the excuse about not enough trash cans. Who needs a can? What for? It's called a trash bag. Bring one. Jeez. Treating grown adults like tiny helpless children. I'm a liberal and proud but that's exactly what conservatives hate about liberals. Let's please ask people to be a little more responsible for themselves. No matter how much money they have or where they come from or who they are.
Aug. 18, 2010, 12:56 pm
bd from PPW says:
Lets be honest instead of being politically correct. By and large this is a cultural thing. And the ACLU is already all over the NYPD for race-disproportionate policing. So the last thing the NYPD needs to do is add more non-asian minorities to its statistics. Thats why its ignored.
Aug. 18, 2010, 2:46 pm
Winston Smith from Poop Slope says:
This is comparing apples to oranges.

First, the dog related offences are about dogs being allowed to run wild in areas (and times) where they should not. Selfish dog owners do not care that a wild dog interferes with any one else's right to use the park. You can't have a catch, a picnic or just sit and read a book when dogs are loose. There are times and places that dogs can be let wild and these dogs related offences are offences against anyone who wants to use the park

To give a ticket to a selfish pet owner who lets there pet run wild is easy, the officer just has to walk over and issue the appropriate summons.

Littering is also reprehensible but in order to issue a summons for littering the officer must be there when the person litters. Of course there are gonna be less summonses.
Aug. 18, 2010, 8:36 pm
Publius from Bklyn Heights says:
Another non-story from the so-called Brooklyn Paper.
Aug. 18, 2010, 11:28 pm
Larry from Prospect Lefferts says:

This past Saturday, I saw massive illegal grilling and trashing in Concert Grove (under the statues) I also saw, which I never see, an NYPD officer right there.
The exchange:

Me: Officer, are you aware that these are all illegal BBQs. Would you be able to write tickets for that?
Officer: Well I think Parks handles that.
Me: But isn't it illegal. Dont you have ability to ticket that?
Officer: But everyone BBQs here.
Me: But its illegal
Officer: I don't see a sign.
Me: The Park signs say that you can ONLY BBQ in desginated areas. There is no sign permitting grilling here. You can't post a sign everywhere you CANT grill.
Officer: I don't know, I'll have to check on that.
Me: Can I ask your name.
Officer: Officer Baez

This is, to my estimation, a p*** poor attitude for law enforcement, that portends a return of the "bad old days" before the NYPD learned about the "broken window effect" and actually reclaimed large areas of this great city for law abiding working people to use and enjoy.

I do pick up trash voluntarily, but I see a major gap in law enforcement that needs to be part of the solution.
My plan, and I URGE EVERYONE TO DO THE SAME:I will write NYPD and Parks to find out the "official" position on who is supposed to enforce the law against illegal BBQs and litter in the Park. With that info, we can then press those who should be responsible to DO THEIR JOBS!

I urge everyone to write, and get this info and follow up with the responsible agency.
Aug. 23, 2010, 9:51 am

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