Police meet with community members over chaotic Washington Square Park parties

WASHINGTON SQUARE PARK, Manhattan (WABC) -- Police, local politicians and the community met Wednesday to address the crime and violence at Washington Square Park.

There was a large turnout of community members during the meeting at Pompeii Church. They were there looking for answers about how to stop the chaos.

The park has recently been the scene of wild, late-night parties that stretch into the early hours of the morning.

Cops say alcohol and drugs are involved in the park parties and neighbors are complaining about noise and crime.

Some residents say they can't sleep and it's dangerous for their families.
A midnight curfew was put into place to help get control of the situation, but community members say many are ignoring curfew.



Just this week, officials report there were slashings, muggings and trash left at the park.

Shutting the park down has led to other problems -- recently five police officers were hurt when they tried to close the park after curfew.

"There's going to be a presence of police officers in there and our goal is pretty simple here -- for people to be allowed to use the park because it is a beautiful park, it always has been, but also public safety," said NYC Police Commissioner Dermot Shea. "So we will continue to be there for the residents of that community, we are intending on being there, enforcing the closing with the parks department."

Police say they will step back a bit to help reduce confrontations in the park.

"We're going to allow the parks department to lead in regards to going through the park and trying to escort people out of the park during the hours of closure," Chief Rodney Harrison said. "Unfortunately we've had incidents in the past that got a little contentious, if it gets to that point, that's when the NYPD will assist and step in."

During the meeting, police asked those in attendance what they would like to see happen.

"I want to get a clear consensus on what we want to do, do we want the park closed at 10, do we want the park closed at 12?" Chief Steve Hughes said. "I have some ideas. I would prefer an early closing, but I'll go with what the consensus is, but i want to do what's right."

Most in attendance at the meeting said they would like a 10 p.m. curfew enforced.

"I think if we can get rid of the criminals in the park, that would make a world of difference," one neighbor said.

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