Top Cop on BPC Delinquents: 'We're Going to Grab These Kids One by One'
At the March 30 First Precinct Community Council meeting, Maria Ribadeneira gives an account of teens who threw rocks at a doorman's car. Dep. Inspector Mark Iocco, right, tells her and other residents that it is not enough to notify Battery Park City's private security but should immediately call 911. Photos: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib
Cops are vowing to target a group of juvenile delinquents in Battery Park City and have so far made one arrest.
Dep. Inspector Mark Iocco, commanding officer of the 1st Precinct, said he has identified nine youths, most between the ages of 13 and 15, who may be part of a group suspected of assaulting and harassing people in the neighborhood. Last month residents became vocal about teens punching strangers and throwing eggs and ice at people, among other offenses that began occurring last October but apparently have only recently been reported to the police.
“Since this whole thing started erupting I have already compiled a list of names, a list of kids that I want to talk to their parents and that’s what we’re going to do,” Iocco announced at the March 30 Community Precinct Council meeting where several Battery Park City residents had come to voice their concerns. Iocco said night patrols would be added on and around North End Avenue.
“We’re going to grab these kids one by one and we’re going to figure out who their parents are and we’re going to go to their parents and have a little sit down,” he said.
“And if that doesn’t work,” Iocco added, “we’re going to start locking them up.
The next night, police arrested a 16-year-old from Battery Park City and charged him with aggrevated harassment for alleged “social media threat.” The youth was given a desk appearance ticket at the 1st Precinct and is scheduled for a June court appearance.
“We believe the individual was involved with some of the other complaints we received,” Iocco told the Trib in an email. “We're continuing to identify these kids to talk with parents & schools.”
Two of the suspected teens “are already in the system,” Iocco said, and all were identified through interviews with complainants and social media investigations conducted by youth officers. “Everything they do they put on Facebook,” Iocco said of the teens. The police also have photos of several of the suspected youths.
Late last month word went around Battery Park City about a “gang” that, as one resident put it in a widely circulated email, are “coming into BPC and terrorizing our children and families.” Those concerns surfaced at the Battery Park City Authority’s quarterly community meeting on March 22, where two residents complained that the authority’s private security, Allied Universal, had been ineffective in dealing with the incidents. Patrick Murphy, Allied Universal’s director of Battery Park City security, countered that victims had been unwilling to report their complaints to the police.
“If you want the person and you want the issue to stop then you have to go and you have to follow it all the way through,” Murphy said.
At the later Community Precinct Council meeting, Iocco echoed Murphy’s position and implored the residents to call 911 if they are a victim. When a woman said that a tossed glass bottle had been aimed at her, Iocco asked when it happened.
In November, the woman replied.
“You were the victim of a crime last November?” he asked, sounding slightly incredulous.
“I reported it to the security in Battery Park,“ she said.
“Did anyone call 911, if you were the victim of a crime?” Iocco asked the Battery Park City residents in the room. No one raised their hand.
Reporting a crime to Battery Park City’s private security, who patrol the neighborhood but who are not authorized to make arrests, is not enough, Iocco said. Police have to begin investigating the crime “immediately.”
“You gotta send that message to these kids,” Iocco said. “If they think they’re going to get away with it every time they do something, they’re going to be terrorizing you guys forever.”