GREENWICH VILLAGE — Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said more police will patrol the Village following an anti-gay murder last week, as concerned residents complained of a "Wild West" atmosphere plaguing their neighborhood.
The top cop visited the 6th Precinct's community council meeting on Carmine and Bleecker streets Wednesday night in response to a rash of anti-gay attacks, including the shooting death of 32-year-old Mark Carson in the neighborhood last weekend that he called an "out-and-out assassination."
Village residents expressed their concern to Kelly that the area feels almost like the Wild West at times, with an influx of revelers to the area on nights and weekends acting in a loutish manner. Several residents mentioned fights breaking out, people screaming at each other and urinating in doorways.
"[There's a] sense of lawlessness," said resident Rose Arce. "People feel like they can come to our neighborhood and do whatever they want."
Kelly responded that even though there will be an increased number of officers patrolling the area through the end of June, it is not possible to police every drunk person.
"The reality is we're down 6,000 police officers from 11 years ago. Every neighborhood would like more police. We understand that," Kelly said. "We have to use those resources according to the big picture. Where there are more problems perhaps than there are here."
The commissioner added that focusing on specific trouble spots and working with bar and club owners could be more effective in the long run.
"We are not going to be able to patrol all boorish behavior, so the focus, I think, has to be on the bars," Kelly said. "Who are they serving? Are they serving people that are intoxicated? If we can narrow down the amount of places that are offending, then we can take enforcement action."
With the number of anti-gay attacks up significantly this year — 29 compared to 14 during the same period last year — Kelly said the city would focus more resources in the areas where the attacks have occurred.
"Why are they up? We can't say with certainty. But I can tell you we believe that these hate crimes in general are underreported, and when there is a notorious event like this people do tend to come forward and report it, and that's a good thing," Kelly said. "We've put more resources here in the Village, more uniformed police officers, and we hope that that acts as a deterrent."
The 6th Precinct also introduced its new commanding officer Wednesday night, Deputy Inspector Elisa Cokkinos.
The commanding officer started the meeting by commending the police work done to quickly apprehend Carson's suspected killer, Elliot Morales.
Morales, 33, yelled gay slurs at Carson before firing a deadly shot to his head early Saturday, police said. He's been charged with murder as a hate crime and is being held without bail.
"The officer that was at MacDougal and Third Street, where the individual was apprehended, his keen observations, his keen listening skills, and the fact that he was just so dedicated to what he was doing, we made that [arrest] without any further incidents of violence," Cokkinos said.