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BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC |
The call for the Battery Park City Authority to reconsider its decision to replace city Parks Enforcement Patrol officers with a private security firm just keeps getting louder.
Elected officials have joined Community Board 1 in asking the B.P.C.A. to withdraw its request for proposals, or R.F.P., that it issued in May and awarded to AlliedBarton Security Services in October without input from residents.
“Residents weren’t consulted,” Borough President Gale Brewer said Thursday, Dec. 3, at a press conference in front of City Hall. “CB1 was not asked for input. All of us agree the neighborhood deserves to be consulted.”
The move to replace city Parks Enforcement Patrol officers — who can issue summonses and make arrests — with private security agents with no enforcement powers has sparked an outcry from residents when it was made public in October.
At the CB1 meeting on Nov. 19, board member and Battery Park City resident Tammy Meltzer joked about how AlliedBarton’s so-called “security ambassadors” might respond to a crime.
“I’m sorry you’re being robbed, ma’am. Please, sir, can you wait there while I call a cop?” she said wryly.
The city’s public employee union, DC 37, which organized the City Hall press conference, warned that privatizing public services hurts not just the union’s members, but the public as well.
“The community is the one that ends up suffering,” said DC 37 executive director Henry Garrido.
Joe Puleo, president of the P.E.P.’s Local 983, accused the B.P.C.A. board —appointed by Gov. Cuomo — of playing games with people’s safety.
“A panel who are not elected … to make a decision to put [the community] in harm’s way is outrageous,” he said.
Councilmember Margaret Chin cited the low crime rate in Battery Park City and questioned the rationale for hiring a private security firm.
“It’s hard to understand why the B.P.C.A. has issued a R.F.P. for a private security firm.”
At the authority’s October board meeting, it announced that P.E.P. officers, who have patrolled the neighborhood’s parks since the ‘90s, would have a “diminished” role going forward and awarded a $2.1 million contract to AlliedBarton.
Bringing in AlliedBarton would extend security patrols beyond the neighborhood’s green spaces — the only areas where P.E.P. can operate — and put 30 percent more boots on the ground in the neighborhood at roughly the same cost as the B.P.C.A. now pays the city for the park patrols, according to Benjamin Jones, the authority’s vice president of administration.
A Parks Dept. spokeswoman said discussions are ongoing and there is no update about how many P.E.P. officers — if any — will be assigned to the neighborhood once the agency’s current contract expires at the end of the year.
The community reacted angrily at a meeting of CB 1’s Battery Park City Committee shortly after the decision, and the committee passed a resolution, later endorsed by the full board, asking for the B.P.C.A. to clarify why it had decided to privatize local security, and to start the contracting process all over again.
Brewer and Chin, as well as state Sen. Daniel Squadron, Assemblymember Deborah Glick, and Congressman Jerrold Nadler signed onto a Dec. 2 letter to B.P.C.A.’s Chairman Dennis Mehiel asking the authority to withdraw the R.F.P. “until the community’s concerns are met.”
The B.P.C.A. board didn’t discus the backlash at its most recent meeting on Dec. 4.
Robin Forst, vice president for external affairs, said in a Dec. 1 email that the contract with AlliedBarton had not yet been signed.