WSP Regular Banned from Park for Drug Dealing Tempts Fate and Is Arrested 81st Time

So, the issue of “drug dealers” at Washington Square is something that gets some people very upset and others just shrug. There was one theory that once the park was redesigned the NYPD would be able to better monitor all activities (not certain that’s really ever been the issue — and there are certainly enough cameras now) and it would end. Well, apparently, one “regular” has been arrested 81 times —

The NY Post first reported early March 30th:

A drug dealer logged his 81st arrest last weekend when cops busted him for marijuana in Greenwich Village, authorities said.

… [Mr.] Wayne was cuffed at 1:25 a.m. Saturday after officers spotted him with weed in Washington Square Park, cops said.

Wayne had so many prior busts there that he had actually been banned from the park, cops added.

This was followed by pieces in DNAinfo and Gothamist. DNAinfo reported:

Drug dealing in Washington Square Park is considered a small-time and nonviolent offense, [Sixth Precinct Deputy Inspector] del Pozo said. Because sentencing is small, too, dealers tend to be repeat offenders. …

Sixth Precinct police are arresting people in the park daily for selling drugs, del Pozo said. They also often find sellers trying to scam would-be pot smokers with black tea and oregano.

It’s interesting that the NYPD Sixth Precinct considers drug dealing “a small-time and nonviolent offense” and yet the Bloomberg Administration has been criticized for making NYC the “Marijuana Arrest Capital of the World” – for people caught with the substance on them.

Allegedly, in this instance, the goods were “sticking out of his pants’ back pocket.” Although is that true? The Bloomberg Admin has also been criticized for this —

Per Gothamist:

the number of low-level pot arrests during the Bloomberg administration is greater than in the 12 years of Mayor Koch, plus the four years of Mayor Dinkins, plus the first two years of Mayor Giuliani combined.

140 people are arrested every day for marijuana possession in NYC, according to stats released by the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services—despite the fact that possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana was decriminalized 30 years ago, provided it’s not burning or in public view. Critics say cops conducting stop and frisks trick “suspects” into bringing their marijuana into public view, thus justifying an arrest.

In addition, this arrest story raises other questionsWere the police just circling the park at 1:25 a.m. (park’s closing time is technically midnight) and happened upon Mr. Wayne? Was he seen from afar via the cameras in the park? Who is in the park then?

Previously at WSP Blog:

* The NYPD Will Be Watching YOU at Washington Square Park April 5, 2010

On the Fountain Plaza: NYPD

The Park. Tuesday — People enjoying the Plaza by the Fountain. Music. Conversation. Then, large New York Police Department van appears, just sitting there, for how long I’m not sure.

I realize there are people who may (?) consider this a good thing but, a bit of overkill, no?

Previous WSP Blog post: The NYPD will be watching YOU at Washington Square Park

The NYPD will be watching YOU at Washington Square Park

New NYPD Cameras SW Washington Square Park

New Surveillance Cameras on Lamp Posts SW

I don’t know how many New York City parks these are installed in, if NYPD is leading the way at Washington Square, or if it’s just been determined by the Bloomberg Administration that this historic park is the park that needs to be pacified, its bohemian, free-wheeling past spirit buried underneath leveled off concrete plazas and aligned Tisch fountains, but New York City Police Department surveillance cameras are being installed as you read this with the construction of Phase II Redesign at Washington Square Park.

At February’s Community Board 2 Parks Committee meeting, the Parks Department dropped off some blue prints of Phase II which outlined the following with regard to the NYPD cameras:

Nine NYPD security cameras and devices, four within the Park, installed on poles. 2 cameras will be installed on new poles that currently do not have security devices installed.

And here they are! These cameras (pictured) have been installed in the Southwest corner of the Park along the pathway that leads to the fountain, north of the Mounds.

People have taken issue with the heavy surveillance within our city and at Washington Square Park in the past but this seems to take it to a new “Big Brother is Watching” level. Is this coming to every park or did they target Washington Square?

Update 4:56 p.m.: The Parks Department responded and said to check in with the NYPD. Parks Department does not know how many NYPD cameras are in city parks or where or how they are monitored, according to the spokesperson. No response from NYPD spokesperson.

More photos of Washington Square Park construction coming Wednesday later this week.

Photos: Cathryn.