Neighbors packed the Carmine Carro Community Center in Marine Park on Tuesday night to question representatives of the 63rd Precinct about the NYPD’s security plans a day after teenagers ran rampant through Kings Plaza mall.
Lieutenant Vito Ardito of the precinct’s special operation’s unit that oversees response to disturbances like that at Kings Plaza, sought to emphasize the NYPD’s proactive handling of the teenage “riot” during the Marine Park Civic Association meeting.
Ardito said the police were aware of the plans to overtake the mall well in advance, having monitored the situation on social media sites including Facebook. However, he noted that it’s not illegal to host a “get together,” but the number of people put the precinct on guard. The NYPD sent additional cars from Manhattan, giving the local force 13 cars in total to preserve order.
The teens were allowed to enter the mall, but police and mall security decided to send them on their way after concerns that the growing numbers would become unmanageable. Ardito emphasized that none of the kids, who appeared to be between the ages of 13 and 16, were violating the law, and all but two complied with officers’ requests to leave, leading to arrests.
Both arrests were of minors, and Ardito said the precinct is working with their parents. One received a summons.
The community, though, demanded a tougher response and more police officers to be stationed at the mall, saying they feared for their safety when shopping at the mall.
Although Ardito noted reiterated that the teens did not violate any laws and were compliant with police officers’ requests, he did note that they are working with mall security to improve the situation – especially as the mall moves forward with renovations, including a $3 million camera system.
He added that when looking at the precinct’s command as a whole, the mall only accounted for a marginal amount of crime, and that slashes to their personnel – from 180 to 120 officers in recent years – meant prioritizing areas with greater incidents of violent crime.
The NYPD is also investigating the organizer of both Kings Plaza “get togethers” for a possible “incitement to violence” charge.