By Maria Rocha-Buschel
A man employed as a caretaker by an elderly resident was caught taking pictures of kids as they played in a Peter Cooper Village playground this week.
A resident shared news of the incident on the Stuyvesant Town Peter Cooper Tenants Facebook page this past Saturday, saying it happened as her daughter and her daughter’s friends were at the playground.
The man was reportedly sitting on a bench in the playground and when the kids suspected he might be filming them, one snuck behind where he was sitting on the bench and found that he was, in fact, taking photographs. They asked him if he was taping them and he said he was, and when they asked why, he reportedly said it was because he wanted to.
The girl’s father then approached the man, asking if he had a child in the park. The man said that he didn’t but was the aide of an elderly man also sitting in the playground. After the girl’s father called security, the aide said that he wasn’t filming the kids but he handed officers his phone, which had photographs of the children on it. The resident who reported the incident noted that the man was not charged with a crime because NYPD said that citations are only issued in city parks for being in a playground without a child. Since ST/PCV is private property, such matters are left up to the Public Safety department, who reportedly deleted the media on the man’s phone before returning the device to him.
General Manager Rick Hayduk responded to the incident, according to a follow-up the resident posted online. Hayduk said in his email to the resident that STPCV has started instituting playground attendants since the weather has started to get warmer but they’re on a rotational basis and not in all the playgrounds at once. Regardless, he noted, the man who was reportedly filming still would have been allowed in the area, at least in the perimeter of the park (although not in the playground if he didn’t have a child), since he’s a registered caretaker of a resident. He added that in this particular situation, though, the attendant would have called public safety to resolve the situation.
Hayduk noted that Stuyvesant Town Property Services would be serving a legal document to the man stating that he is not allowed near playgrounds if he remains employed by the resident.
“The safety, privacy and comfort of our residents is a top priority for management and will not tolerate any behavior that comprises their sense of security,” Paula Chirhart, a representative for management, later said. “We encourage all residents to contact public safety should they experience anything that concerns them.”