Coronavirus News: Ride-along with police handing out masks in Brooklyn

BROWNSVILLE, Brooklyn (WABC) -- Police officers tried to break up a party on a Brownsville block. The group instead threw bottles at them - and then there was a standoff.

The calls came in all day to 911 or 311 for large groups and mask violations everywhere. Eyewitness News was along for the ride and got an exclusive look at how police in northern Brooklyn crisscross the borough, offering free masks to anyone who needed them.

Officer John Dorrejo is part of a New York task force to try and enforce safety rules in the pandemic.

"I care about the people in the community - they're just like me. We're all humans in this world, and I want to let them know this mask is for them," said Officer Dorrejo.

It isn't always easy amid the history of tension between the police and the community.

"We've been thrust into a tough position here," said NYPD Assistant Chief Jeff Maddrey.

Assistant Chief Maddrey is in charge of ten precincts from Williamsburg to Brownsville, and hand-selected officers along with community organizers and even the Knicks' Taj Gibson - a son of Fort Greene - to hand out masks. Not everyone would take them, but many did.

"We want everybody to be safe. We don't want to put people in jail. We want to keep people apart, we don't want to put them together," said Maddrey.

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