“Jay Victorino was standing outside his mother’s apartment when he was grabbed by police, and he says if she hadn’t come downstairs to identify him he would’ve been arrested on a trespassing charge,” the AP reports. “That’s because his mother’s South Bronx building is one of thousands of private dwellings patrolled by the New York Police Department under a program known as Operation Clean Halls.” According to nyc.gov, Operation Clean Halls “offers police patrols in residential buildings to prevent drug use and sales. Landlords can request that the police conduct patrols in the hallways and stairwells of their building to remove non-residents who are loitering.” Ah yes, loitering. Not to mention any other crime the cops detect. Sherman, set the Way Back Machine for the 1990’s . . .
Operation Clean Halls started in Manhattan in the 1990s, when crime was at an all-time high and some private building owners felt overwhelmed with wrongdoing inside their properties. Now, there are more than 3,000 participating buildings around the city, mostly in higher-crime areas such as the South Bronx. To enroll, a building owner or manager signs paperwork allowing police to enter and arrest people found to be committing crimes.
Edifices citywide are dotted with small white square signs alerting residents that their homes are patrolled by police. Some are huge complexes, others are small brownstones. Officers have conducted hundreds of thousands of patrols up and down stairwells and even more outside. They catch drug transactions, shoo away loiterers and break up fights, residents say.
“It’s good for us. It’s great. We love it. Otherwise, people are in the hallways all the time up to no good,” 77-year-old Courtney Campbell said, recalling a time when people would urinate in her hall.
But others say they can’t go home without being menaced. In August 2011, Ligon sent her teenage son to the corner store get ketchup for the fries she was making for dinner. He didn’t return.
Eventually, a police officer rang her doorbell and told her over the intercom to come down and identify her boy.
“I thought he was dead,” she said. “I ran down the stairs, and when I saw him there, I just collapsed.”
Ligon said her son later was arrested on a trespassing charge but the charge was dropped.
“I want the harassment to stop,” she said. “It’s not right.”
It may not be right. And I’d bet dollars to donuts those 3000 buildings are home to some police shakedowns. But it is legal. Well, the patrolling part. In The City That Never Sleeps, private land owners can sign away their residents’ privacy right up to their doorway. Of course, if the cop “happens” to look in and see illegal activity . . .
The AP article digresses into a look at the connection between the city’s “stop and frisk” policy, racism and Operation Clean Halls. Yada yada yada. The bigger point: this is what happens when you surrender your right to armed self-defense to the government.
When you rely on the cops for your safety, you live by their rules. People stop urinating in your hallways, but you create a police state right there on your doorstep. How great is that?