84th Precinct cops to cover Pier 2
Following the shocking outbreak of gunfire in Brooklyn Bridge Park late Wednesday afternoon, some Brooklyn Heights residents say that with ever-larger numbers visiting the park, more police presence is required.
The shots scattered crowds enjoying the basketball and handball courts and other exercise facilities on Pier 2 at roughly 5:30 p.m. Cops from Brooklyn’s 84th Precinct arrested two men following the incident.
Akeem Reed, 17, and Legrant Foster, 20, were apprehended by police while still in the park, an NYPD spokesperson told the Brooklyn Eagle.
Foster fired a Ruger 9MM handgun, which was recovered by the cops. No one was hit, police said. The number of shots fired is under investigation.
A park spokesperson said a knife was also recovered. NYPD was at Pier 2 within two minutes of a 911 call from the scene.
Commenters on Gothamist said that cops evacuated Pier 2. The pier was blocked by yellow caution tape following the incident.
While some witnesses reported groups of teens fighting and running from the pier, NYPD told the Eagle the two suspects were not with a group.
The men were charged with criminal possession of a weapon and reckless endangerment.
“The safety of our park visitors and the surrounding community is our utmost priority, and we work hard to maintain a secure environment,” Regina Myer, president of Brooklyn Bridge Park, said in a statement.
“Our Park Enforcement Police (PEP) officers patrol the park regularly. Although they are not armed, they are trained to provide basic assistance, enforce park rules, and to maintain a security presence,” Myer said. “In addition to our PEP staff, we work very closely with the 84th Precinct [which] over the last few years has increased patrols of the Park. Following this incident, their officers will have an increased presence at Pier 2 daily until further notice.”
Patrick Killackey, president of the Brooklyn Heights Association, said BHA was in touch with the 84th Precinct “to bring priority attention to the need and to support their request for more resources.
“The summer brings many people to the park–more and more every year–and we expect the city to maintain policing and all services at the levels demanded by the number of users. With the summer season already here in terms of numbers of park users, we need timely attention to this from the city,” Killackey said.
“The BHA will also be in touch with the BBPC [Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation] to ask that they take appropriate actions and to support any requests they make to the city to ensure a safe and welcoming park for all users,” he added.
Andrew Porter—who has lived in the Heights since 1968 and has seen the evolution of Brooklyn Bridge Park (BBP)—feels that “in their efforts to create a world-class park, while the designers of BBP made the park an active recreation area, they’ve failed to consider the millions of visitors during warmer weather.
“It’s possible policing did not receive a high enough priority from the planners,” Porter told the Eagle.
“BBP now draws large numbers—witness the crowds at Smorgasburg on Sundays—for which the number of Park Enforcement Police assigned have perhaps not kept pace,” he said. “This is reflected in the sheer number of people coming through the neighborhoods next to the park, which have adversely changed the quality of life for those who live in the Willowtown and far northern areas of Brooklyn Heights. They’ve experienced much greater pedestrian numbers, and in some cases an increase in illegal parking and vandalism.”
A park spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal in January that BBP received 4.5 million visitors from May to August last year.
On Friday, the Brooklyn Heights Association confirmed that there will be 84th Precinct coverage at Pier 2 every day of the week and on weekends from mid-afternoon until the Pier closes.
Overall, crime is down in the 84th Precinct.
“The amount of people that come here – people shopping, moving here in the new apartment buildings and the people coming from outside of the neighborhood to use Brooklyn Bridge Park – you would expect those numbers to be higher, but they’re not,” Captain Sergio Centa said at an 84th Precinct Community Council meeting last September.
“That doesn’t mean we’re going to sit back and congratulate ourselves; we’re not. We’re always looking to improve and look[ing] for ways to combat that crime,” he said.
Centa noted that some people using the basketball courts and soccer fields in Brooklyn Bridge Park have their bags stolen while they are playing on the piers.
“Brooklyn Bridge Park provides acres of much-needed open space for the entire city to enjoy, and while the creation of such a popular amenity is to be celebrated, with this comes the need for greater vigilance,” Myer said. “We are incredibly grateful to the 84th Precinct for their dedication and responsiveness to security needs associated with the Park, and support Commanding Officer Captain Centa in his efforts to have additional personnel assigned to the Precinct.”
Updated with quotes from BBP and BHA.