Two residents, who chose to remain anonymous due to threats and severity of the situation near their home in close proximity to the park, said “ecstasy parties” that last throughout the weekend are a common nightly activity at the baseball field on Vermont Street near the Jackie Robinson Expressway.
“It has been an ongoing chronic problem over the years,” one resident said. “The ballfields, where they play softball, it gets out of hand. The drinking gets out of hand, there have been fights.”
Her husband noted that the problems tend to start after dark when the baseball or softball games come to an end.
“When the games are going on there’s no problem, but when the games break up, most of the good people leave and the drunks stay and get more and more drunk,” he explained. “It just turns into a wild free-for-all.”
The two have lived in the neighborhood for nearly seven years, and said that they have just now begun to see some relief. They said after years of calling 311 without any success, they began working with officers at the 75th Precinct in Brooklyn and the 104th Precinct in queens nearly three times a week to make a noise complaint or to report violent crimes.
According to the couple, it took years to get the two precincts to work together.
“There’s a division and nobody wanted to do anything,” the husband explained. “Once we got involved with the community affairs people there and here, they started really responding.”
Captain Christopher Manson of the 104th Precinct said he has been working with the 75th Precinct in Brooklyn to coordinate efforts in reigning in the illegal activity.
“I am going to actually be going into Brooklyn North and sitting down with the 75th Precinct,” Manson said. “It’s in the works. I don’t want a repeat of last year and the mayhem that went on.”
Manson explained that while they have been making arrests, ongoing efforts are going to require sending additional officers to the area.
“It’s going to take some manpower,” he said. “We have to form a big circle. The main area is that parking lot and it’s a bad situation.”
He added that he plans to send in, “teams of officers,” to areas surrounding the park every night.
“On the big weekends, I’m thinking of putting my THV (Temporary Headquarters Vehicle) in that park,” he said. “We wont have a repeat of what happened last time.”
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley said that while there have been problems around both Highland and Forest parks, she has seen positive changes.
"It is very important for residents of our community to feel safe,” Crowley said. “Recently, at my urging, the Parks Department placed a Parks Enforcement Patrol substation in Forest Park to patrol the park.”