Hours after lifeguards were attacked, forcing an early closure, the McCarren Park Pool re-opened yesterday to big crowds. The huge, newly renovated pool has a capacity of 1,500 people at by 1 p.m., City Room reports, there were 1,502 people, prompting an attendant to say to those waiting outside the entrance, "We are at full capacity and will not let people in until others start to leave."
On Friday, lifeguards were attacked when they told pool-goers to stop doing backflips. A Walk In That Park's Geoffrey Croft, who documented city parks' pool violence last year, notes, "Critics say the city has a fraction of the PEP [Park Enforcement Police] officers needed to protect the public and relies too heavily on non-peace officer status personnel who receive little training to provide essential safety services in our park system, including public pools. The security personnel, including JTP's [Job Training Participants], have no enforcement authority including arrest powers, they can issue no summonses, and receive as little as one day of training."
There are Parks Department CSAs (City Seasonal Aid) at the pool too, but parks workers union Local 983's Joseph Puleo, who has blasted the lack of appropriate staffing, points out that JTPs and CSAs "have no authority they can't even write a summonses. They can't do anything. How many more incidents have to occur until the city takes action?"
One lifeguard lamented to Croft, "The Police and PEP need to be out on the pool deck. Lifeguards are supposed to be watching the pools not breaking up fights. We are not police or PEP. We are supposed to ensuring the safety of swimmers not being attacked. What are (JTP's) supposed to do hit them with their food stamps. They are nice people but the city is putting us—not to mention them— at risk."