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BID Program Spotlight: "Guardians of Flatiron," the BID's Public Safety Team

With Guardians of the Galaxy atop the movie box office this summer, it seems appropriate to bring some well-deserved attention to those who help keep us safe in the Flatiron District, otherwise known as the BID’s Public Safety Team.

Sergio Gonzalez, the lead supervisor of the team, says, “My wife calls me a superhero because if someone is in trouble in Flatiron, I try to help them out.”  Donning a stately security uniform, the officers not only address a range of quality-of-life issues, but they also lend a hand to anyone who needs it.  For instance, every day Sergio helps people who are blind, or can’t move quickly, get safely across one of the many busy streets in the area, adding, “The uniform helps!”  While the officers have no special powers, these small instances of providing personalized assistance to those in need add up to make a safer and more cohesive community.

The team is comprised of seven Public Safety Officers (PSOs) that work every day of the week, year-round.  Sergio instructs them to be alert and proactive as they patrol the Flatiron District, and to look for people who may be experiencing a problem even before they ask.   There are a high number of tourists who visit the Flatiron District every day, and getting lost is commonplace.  A primary role of the Public Safety Officers is to serve as ambassadors, and give people directions to subways, bus stops, and even Madison Square Garden which, to the surprise of many, is not next to Madison Square Park! When asked about his favorite part of the job, Alexander George, a four-year veteran of the team, said, “I like helping the tourists – I don’t like seeing people lost.”  Seconds after saying this, two tourists approached and asked him to take their picture in front of the Flatiron Building, to which he amicably replied, “Of course!” 

Not every situation is as simple as giving directions or snapping a photo.  Michael Black, who has been a Public Safety Officer since 2009, spoke to some of the more serious incidents of the past year.  He recounts with pride the way the team responded to an automobile accident near 23rd Street and 5th Avenue, and the effort to help the driver of the van exit before the vehicle burst into flames, an incident in which Wilson Jimenez of the Sanitation Team also played an integral role.  Additionally, Michael recently responded to a situation where a man suffered a seizure near the Flatiron Building, and he was able to successfully keep the situation calm until medical personnel arrived.  

The Public Safety Officers are trained to respond to emergencies, but thankfully that’s not a part of the daily routine.  Each day the team interacts with store and building managers, and addresses a range of quality-of-life issues.  They survey street conditions, report garbage accumulation, note graffiti and illegal flyer placements, and submit various other violations to 311.  Much of this information is then communicated to the BID’s Sanitation Team, or the appropriate city agency, so the condition can be expediently fixed.  The team also addresses issues such as panhandling, cyclists riding on sidewalks, and smoking in the Public Plazas.

Hopefully next time you’re out, you’ll notice the good work being done by the Public Safety Officers.  They’re not saving the world, but they are guarding the Flatiron District, and making it a better place to live, work and visit! The Public Safety Team is contracted through ABM Security Services, and overseen by the BID’s Director of Operations, Scott Kimmins. 

Read more about the BID's Public Safety Program here.


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Clocktower spring blooms 🌸✨ 📸: @mkvisuals_ig
3 days ago