Watch CBS News

Coronavirus Social Distancing Enforcement Scrutinized Following Viral Videos Of Police Encounters

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - The mayor and police chief are on the defense as questions mount over whether there's a disparity in communities where police are enforcing social distancing.

The NYPD is handing out masks at places like the Hudson River Park, but where it's handing out summonses is up for debate, CBS2's Lisa Rozner reported. The agency is disclosing how many tickets it has issued, but not where.

The latest viral video over social distancing enforcement shows police restraining a 15-year-old juvenile in East New York. He was allegedly part of a group of four not maintaining a six foot distance, and arrested after he was found to have an outstanding complaint for menacing.


It comes a day after officer Francisco Garcia was placed on modified duty after a video showed him aggressively enforcing social distancing on the Lower East Side. The Legal Aid Society says Garcia has a history of lawsuits being filed against him for his conduct, where the city has had to pay out almost a quarter of a million dollars.

"What did the NYPD do about that when those civil lawsuits were filed? We don't know because that disciplinary record is secret," said Jennvine Wong of the Legal Aid Society.

Watch: Mayor Bill de Blasio Gives Coronavirus Update 

During Tuesday's press briefing, the NYPD and mayor would not take Rozner's questions on why the officer was still on the job, but did say each social distancing enforcement case is being reviewed individually.

"The common denominator here is starting with a lack of compliance and, echoing some of what the mayor said, respect here is a two way street," said Police Commissioner Dermot Shea.

The latest NYPD stats show:

  • Friday, May 1: 11 summonses issued
  • Saturday, May 2: 89
  • Sunday, May 3: 23

Seven arrests were also made on Sunday.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams says he wants to know by zip code and demographic where it is happening. Monday, the NYPD commissioner said he planned to release it by precinct, and possibly even parks, but was "working it through legal."

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

"At this point I believe they're purposely not putting out information because it's going to show what all of us know: Primary enforcement has been in black and brown communities even though we see pictures and videos of people in all communities not adhering to social distancing," Willams said. "We shouldn't have one policing style for one community and another for a different."

He and the Legal Aid Society also say the NYPD is not handing out masks in low income communities where it is needed the most.

PHOTO GALLERY: Coronavirus Shutdown 30 Days In

"They're handing it out in the West Village, in Central Park," Wong said.

CBS2 has asked the NYPD several times if there are directives being given on how it is choosing to approach groups and whether IDs are being checked to confirm if people live together. No one would get back to us, but the mayor did say this is a new initiative and the NYPD is learning the protocol by experience.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.