Time to call in the reinforcements.
Crime and quality-of-life complaints have gotten so bad in the West Village, a community group contracted armed guards to patrol their street and stop chronic drug dealing, crack smoking and public defecation.
The West 4th Mac/6th Block Association hired security officers strapped with pistols from Black Tie Protection Services of upstate Monroe, to surveil West Fourth Street between MacDougal Street and Sixth Avenue for the month of August at various hours of the day.
Resident Brian Maloney said his neighborhood of 16 years is suffering from an influx of emotionally disturbed drug addicts and an exodus of cops, made all the worse by bail reform and soft-on-crime Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
Private guards was the only logical way to combat the chaos of a revolving-door justice system, he said.
“We have residents saying, ‘We’re a liberal city. The Village is a very liberal area.’ Well, I’ve lost my liberal-ness on this. It baffles me,” Maloney told The Post. “The security certainly gave me peace of mind.”
Maloney and his neighbors are not alone. Other groups like the Village Alliance business improvement district and the West 9th Street Block Association hired unarmed private security in the past to patrol their streets.
Maloney said in the first two weeks, the armed guards confronted 200 users, dealers and vagrants and rousted them off the block. But once a shift ended, the shady characters came back.
“There’s always been a certain grunginess and low-level charm to the Village, but now it’s just lawlessness,” another resident said. “With the security, It was such a relief to come home and not find anyone on my stoop. I was relieved to not find the same dealers and addicts on my block. It felt like 2018 again.”
Cyndi Slater of Florida moved her daughter Jessica into an apartment on West 4th Street in May and was immediately horrified.
“The first night we were there, a guy walked straight toward us, pulled down his pants and showed his penis,” she said. “There were people peeing on the stoop next door. We’re walking around and stepping over piles of s–t. There’s open drug use and dealing. And then there’s just the constant screaming and threats all night long. Everything was so blatant.”
Slater said a lot of that filth and grime went away when the patrols showed up. “I would love to see year-round security but it’s unfortunately very expensive and not sustainable.”
The security firm was paid $18,000 for the month, Maloney said. The block association might extend hiring the guards, but it’s up in the air for now as only 10 residents out of a potential 50 threw in on what was viewed as a test program.
“We need 24/7 security,” Maloney said. “The frustrating part is paying out of pocket for it on top of exorbitant taxes and rising prices at the grocery store. 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.”
The NYPD’s 6th Precinct, which patrols West Village, has seen the greatest increase in total major crime in all of Manhattan — 81% — with burglaries and grand larcenies leading the charge. There have been two murders so far compared to zero in 2021, and rapes and felony assaults are up 43% and 8%, respectively. Petty larceny increased from 840 to 1,334 — or 59% — and misdemeanor assaults climbed 40% from 197 last year to 275.
But some called the private patrols a straight up waste of money.
“I paid my donation for the month. It came down to a couple hundred dollars, but the security made no difference to me whatsoever, so I see no reason to have them come back,” said Elias Tsikis, owner of the Washington Square Diner. “I still had the same crazy people attempting to come in to my store or panhandling and harassing my customers outside.”
Photos provided to The Post by residents show heroin addicts slumped over on front stoops, a man walking around the neighborhood with his penis hanging out of his waistband and homeless people urinating on the sidewalk.
“We see defecation, urination, masturbation. Any kind of -ation, we’ve got it,” Maloney said.
One resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said she’s never seen her neighborhood, nor the whole city, this bad.
“I lived through the ‘70s and ‘80s when people said things were really rough. I was never afraid then. I am now,” she said. “It all comes from the top, and [Manhattan DA] Bragg has not helped any of us.”