A vast contingent of NYPD cops will hit the New York City streets this Labor Day weekend, trying to rein in crime amid an ongoing pandemic and surging violence, officials said Thursday.
In the past, Brooklyn has typically been the focus of a great deal of law enforcement activity because of the massive West Indian Day Parade and related J’ouvert festivities. The Monday parade and festival will be virtual and there are no planned events and street closures in the area this weekend.
Chief of Department Terence Monahan said the NYPD will place hundreds of extra officers in the borough to deal with house parties, street gatherings and possible violence.
“It has been a tough summer for all of us,” said Monahan during a preholiday briefing with reporters. “As we all know this summer we have experienced a tidal wave of violence, 708 shootings … 899 victims since June 1st.”
Monahan said because part of the spike in violence has stemmed from large gatherings, "we will be out there in force to fight the crimes and prevent violence this weekend."
The goal is to take a proactive approach to keeping the streets safe, he said.
“We have to be concerned that the violence we are seeing right now, the gang violence, different crews attacking other crews, our job is intercept them before they come together,” Monahan said.
At a separate news conference Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio said members of the Cure Violence movement and others in Brooklyn plan to hand out leaflets in the borough informing the public that gatherings of more than 50 are prohibited due to health and safety reasons.
House parties in particular, with hundreds of participants spilling out on the street, are going to be easy targets for the attention of cops, Monahan said, adding that violence will result in arrests. Cops will also enforce laws dealing with quality of life offenses.
The overall message for this weekend's holiday revelers? Celebrate wisely, the chief said.
“We are asking that they celebrate small, celebrate with their families, celebrate on their block. People who do not live in Brooklyn, there is absolutely no reason to come in from Jersey, from the Bronx — there are no events to come to see,” Monahan said.
The summer had been marred by incidents in which large numbers of people, sometimes attending house or block parties, respond to arriving cops with hostility and violence as the officers investigate shootings or other crimes.
To make sure that doesn’t happen, Monahan said, units will have sufficient numbers of officers to assure their safety.
“As you look at this summer, with COVID, people have no where to go, they are in all front of their building," he said. "What used to be 50 people hanging out, there are 250 hanging out, so it has been a tough year for our cops."