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State of surveillance in Washington Square

On Friday, police wheeled a mobile video surveillance tower into Washington Square Park next to the arch. It’s solar powered.

(Photo by © Jefferson Siegel)

Police might not be doing much enforcement in the park, including of its curfew — but they are watching.


  1. Peggy Friedman Peggy Friedman June 20, 2021

    This is a description from a young friend who spends lots of time in Washington Square. After reading it, no one in their right mind would think that the goings on there are “just young people partying.”

    “I just read the park story [The NY Times]. Bad behavior has nothing to do with race, which is always the first card played in these situations. One kid said he was getting away from the gangs in his neighborhood park, and that’s legit. Which tells us that city government is failing its job, over and over again, to provide safety and equality to its citizens.

    “We were sitting in the park last week, waiting for the doors to open at the church. And it was a mad scene. The park regulars were nowhere to be found, Colin the piano guy, Ricky the puppet guy, the Japanese guy who heads a jazz band, Joe Mangrum, the sand artist. Replaced by skateboarders, electric bikers, amplified music and people selling druggie snacks at one table. No cops, no parkies [Parks Enforcement Patrol officers] to be seen. As we were trying to leave the park, two guys run past us, one running for his life, and the other in just boxers, yelling like a madman, on drugs or just insane. We waited a few minutes to leave because boxer man was hanging out at the exit, yelling at people across the street.”

    The concert last week was in Judson Memorial Church.

    Peggy Friedman
    Executive Director, Washington Square Music Festival

  2. redbike redbike June 20, 2021

    Getting the snark out of the way: does this mean there’ll only be video surveillance during daylight hours?

    Decades ago, the NYPD parked a trailer with a video camera mast on Washington Sq South. Ironically, this was / is opposite NYU’s law school. This was, to my knowledge, NYPD’s first use of video to continuously surveil public space in NYC. The current state of Washington Sq Park is clear evidence of success.

    Narrowly, surveilling the arch may deter vandalism specifically targeting the arch. IMHO, this is good.

    More broadly, passive video surveillance — even if it’s 24/7/365 — fails to actively address the park’s current problems.

    Last week’s community meeting — and The Village Sun’s thorough reporting — help. Formulating and announcing policy — but then not implementing it — doesn’t help. And not implementing announced policy strongly suggests: maybe there was something wrong with the announced policy.

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