As shell-shocked New Yorkers venture outside to try and enjoy a little time in the sun, the NYPD is dispatching 1,000 officers whose sole responsibility on Saturday will be enforcing the city's social-distancing rules, even as surveillance data released by the governor on Saturday suggested that 1/5th of New Yorkers have already been exposed and developed antibodies.
The move comes after Mayor de Blasio threatened to sic the NYPD on ultra-orthodox Jews in Williamsburg, who gathered for the funeral of a rabbi late last month. De Blasio was slammed by community advocates for what they said was unfair targeting of the Jews.
And how to we solve issues of alleged discrimination in 21st Century America? That's right - we ensure the entire population is subjected to that same discriminatory behavior, however ridiculous that might be.
NYPD officers - many of whom have already contracted the virus themselves - have the power to issue summonses and even make arrests if they encounter individuals who flagrantly or repeatedly flout the social distancing rules.
"This is the nicest weather we've seen this year; we encourage people to come out and enjoy this weather," Terence Monahan, Chief of Department for the New York Police Department, told NBC News. But "You cannot gather; you cannot barbecue. We're going to give you a summons. There's been enough warnings."
Monahan said the NYPD would have bike teams and mounted units on horseback throughout the parks, as well as aviation units working to spot "problem areas" (i.e. the Jews in Brooklyn and New Yorkers across the 5 boroughs who rush to gather an impromptu barbecue on a nice day).
Officers won't issue summonses to those who aren't wearing masks; instead, they will carry packs of clothe masks to distribute.
Monahan said he hopes his officers won't need to issue summonses, but the NYPD has encountered no shortage of stubborn noncompliant individuals.
"The vast majority of times people have complied," Monahan told NBC News. "But there's been some people who think they can do whatever they want. They endanger my cops; they endanger each other."
Lt. Adam Mellusi, a patrol commander in the Bronx, said his squad - consisting of a dozen officers on bikes - will be issuing summonses if they find "large-scale barbecues and drinking."
He added that most New Yorkers support the patrols and "have actually thanked us for being out here."
Somehow, we doubt most communities of native New Yorkers, who take the tradition of springtime barbecuing more seriously than Brooklyn hipster transplants, will be thanking the officers who write them a $300 ticket, or a court summons, for standing too close to their brother-in-law.