New York, NY – Crime has gotten so bad in the Big Apple’s famous Greenwich Village neighborhood that a community group hired armed security guards to patrol their streets in August.
The armed security guards were hired by the West 4th Mac/6th Block Association and paid for with money contributed by residents and local businesses, the New York Post reported.
Neighbors said crime has gotten out of control in Greenwich Village since the pandemic hit, WNYW reported.
A rash of muggings brought the crime problem to the forefront again recently, but New York Police Department (NYPD) statistical data showed overall crime in Greenwich Village was up 80 percent so far this year.
So, fed up residents and business owners ponied up $18,000 to pay for two armed security officers to patrol the area of West 4th St. between McDougall and Sixth Avenue for the month of August.
“The worst it’s been in 21 years when it comes to crime,” Washington Square Diner owner Elias Tsikis told WNYW in a statement.
A frustrated resident started a group for concerned community members and they came up with the plan for armed security guards.
The pilot program launched at the beginning of August and ended at the end of the same month, WNYW reported.
Security officers worked a variety of shifts and residents said they saw a huge improvement when security was in place.
But security officers weren’t on duty 24 hours a day, WNYC reported.
“When our security guards were present, it did seem much safer and there was a sense of calm when they were walking the street,” neighbor Brian Maloney said. “But the moment they went off duty, the deluge of lawlessness returned, instantly.”
Maloney blamed the problem on an influx of emotionally disturbed drug addicts, a shortage of police, bail reform, and soft-on-crime Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, the New York Post reported.
He said private security so far was the only way to fight the chaos of the revolving-door justice system that keeps putting criminals back into his neighborhood.
“We have residents saying, ‘We’re a liberal city. The Village is a very liberal area.’ Well, I’ve lost my liberal-ness on this. It baffles me,” Maloney told the New York Post. “The security certainly gave me peace of mind.”
Maloney said residents were working to figure out the next steps based on the success of the pilot program, WNYW reported.
He said that in the first two weeks security was in place, the armed guards confronted 200 users, dealers, and vagrants and made them leave the block, the New York Post reported.
But Maloney said that when the security officers’ shifts ended each day, the criminals came back to the neighborhood.
“There’s always been a certain grunginess and low-level charm to the Village, but now it’s just lawlessness,” another resident told the New York Post.
“With the security, it was such a relief to come home and not find anyone on my stoop. I was relieved to not find the same dealers and addicts on my block. It felt like 2018 again,” the resident added.
Greenwich Village isn’t the only neighborhood that has stepped up security, the New York Post reported.
The Village Alliance Business Improvement District (BID) and the West 9th Street Block Association hired unarmed security to patrol their communities.
“Armed guards are nothing new in the city,” former NYPD Lieutenant Darrin Porcher told WNYW. “This begs the question as to what are we going to do based on the sentiment of public safety.”