NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Now it has come to this.
With crime rising and workers afraid to return to their buildings, several business groups are hiring private security guards to do the job Mayor Bill de Blasio has so far been unable to fulfill.
As CBS2’s political reporter Marcia Kramer reports, a disruptive homeless man kicked over a trash can in front of cops and then was arrested. Scenes like that playing out all-too-frequently in the Garment District is one of the reasons a local business group has hired its own security force to patrol the streets and public spaces.
“The neighborhood, in an instant, has become deplorable,” said Barbara Blair, president of the Garment District Alliance. “The conditions are frightening.”
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The Garment District Alliance is a business group representative of 575 property owners and 6,500 businesses. Blair says the group hired its own security force because the city moved some 4,000 homeless people into the area and employees are afraid to come back.
“It used to be the homeless would seek shelter under scaffolding,” she said. “But what we have now are people on drugs, that openly use drugs, that have needles in their arms, needles in their neck. They harass the diners. They harass the commuters.”
At least three business groups have hired their own security forces, coming on the heels of a letter to Mayor de Blasio by over 160 business leaders asking him to fix conditions in the city so businesses will recover.
Businessman John Catsimatidis is one of the leaders who signed the letter.
“I think we have to push the panic button now,” he said.
The mayor said he has to reopen schools before he figures out how to help the city recover.
“In the next two weeks, we’re going to show you the next big step to that roadmap,” de Blasio said.
The mayor continues to insist he needs more money to fix things: Either borrowing, or a federal stimulus package. Catsimatides says he should only accept federal funds on one condition.
“As long as there’s a federal monitor to make sure the money goes to the right source,” Catismatidis said.
In the meantime, the Garment District Alliance is putting together an escort service to help scared employees get from their offices to public transportation.
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