NYC block hires armed guards to combat drug dealing in posh neighbourhood

‘I went through the ’80s crack epidemic. I feel like this is a different level,’ said Greenwich Village resident association member Brian Maloney

Bevan Hurley
Sunday 11 September 2022 17:48 BST
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A neighbourhood association in an upmarket New York City block hired armed security guards to patrol the streets and confront drug dealers and violent criminals.

The West 4th Mac/6th Block Association in Greenwich Village spent $18,000 on guards from Black Tie Protection Services to deter crack smoking and public defecation over the month of August, resident Brian Maloney told the New York Post.

The area of West Fourth Street between MacDougal St and Sixth Ave that Mr Maloney has called home for 16 years had become overrun with emotionally disturbed drug addicts and homeless people in recent years, he told the Post.

Reductions in community policing and bail reform had left residents with no choice but to hire their own private security force, he said.

The guards confronted 200 vagrants and drug dealers over the month of August, and removed them from the street, he told the Post.

But as soon as the guards’ shift ended, they would return to sit on stoops, openly smoke hard drugs and leave rubbish and human waste.

Mr Maloney told the Village Sun that children were regularly being confronted by disturbing scenes such as nudity, users with needles sticking out of their arms and men covered in faeces, he said.

“I’ve lived in this city for 37 years,” Mr Maloney told the Village Sun.

“I went through the ’80s crack epidemic. I feel like this is a different level. And it’s not just me that feels this way.”

When safety began to deteriorate in the area in 2019, residents and city officials held a walkthrough of Washington Square Park, which is a source of many of the area’s problems, Mr Maloney said.

Washington Square Park is a haven for drug taking in Greenwich Village, locals say
Washington Square Park is a haven for drug taking in Greenwich Village, locals say (Getty Images)

After years of inaction, residents resolved to take matters into their own hands and pay for August pilot progamme over the month of August, when crime is at its highest in the area.

They are considering hiring guards again, but with only 10 of the associations members willing to chip in for the programme, it’s a costly option.

Mr Maloney told the Post the area needed a 24/7 law enforcement presence.

“The frustrating part is paying out of pocket for it on top of exorbitant taxes and rising prices at the grocery store,” he said.

“The taxes go up and our quality-of-life goes down. We shouldn’t have to pay for it, but there’s a real lack of a cop presence and anyone they do arrest is let out an hour later.”

Other neighbourhood groups such as the Village Alliance and West 9th Street Block Association have previously hired unarmed guards to monitor their blocks, the Post reported.

According to NYPD figures, overall crime skyrocketed by 26 per cent in August compared to the same month in 2021.

Five of the seven major index-crime categories shot up, with a 38 per cent increase in robbery and a 31 per cent rise in burglary.

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