Saturday, December 20, 2014

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The Call Blog: Community Service For Climbing Brooklyn Bridge?

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Police brass have said they take these security breaches very seriously. Landmarks continue to be the top terrorist targets. So you can imagine Police Commissioner Bratton's face when he heard a judge suggested the man who climbed to the top of the Brooklyn Bridge needs nothing more than a bucket with some soapy water.

The Russian tourist who scaled a barricade and climbed the Brooklyn Bridge last weekend had his day in court today. Prosecutors offered Yaroslav Kolchin a plea deal that carries a 90-day jail sentence for low-level trespassing. But the Brooklyn Criminal Court judge presiding over the case suggested community service was a more appropriate punishment. Judge ShawnDya Simpson reportedly said, "If he likes the bridge so much, let him clean a bridge."

The tourist's court date comes as new security measures are being put in place at the bridge. There's also a heavier police presence after American flags were removed and replaced with bleached flags last month. Two German artists claimed responsibility for that security breach. Yesterday, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton reiterated that police take these stunts seriously in a post-September 11 world. What do you say?

Is a 90-day sentence appropriate for the tourist who scaled the Brooklyn Bridge? Do you agree with the judge who suggested community service was an adequate punishment? Are you concerned about the security breaches at the Brooklyn Bridge, along with the BASE jumpers who scaled to the top of One World Trade Center? Has the NYPD response been appropriate?

Send your thoughts using the link above.

We have a police force of about 35, 000 men and women who join then go elsewhere after two to three years of duty, if that, to police five borough communities of over 500,000 people. Yet we expect them to perform miracles of crime fighting, life-saving and from time-to-time, taking down the bad guys. My reaction to this latest incident indicates that we must do more to protect our monuments and places of interest here in the City. A 90 day sentence for what was clearly what 'he thought would be something to take back to Mother Russia' does not warrant such a sentence. Would this impact his ability to get a job back in his homeland? Considering the relationship between Russia and the United States Putin might give the tourist a medal. More police officers; more electronic surveillance which really equates to funding- but who pays for this? And where will the money come from?

Everyone is concerned about these breaches but talking about it will not resolve the obvious and not-so-obvious breaches on many of our areas across the City, State and even other places across the country. There are companies out there right now scrambling to get a bid in to help in this deep security hole we have here in this City. The question becomes what will they charge for their services, product and research? And how much profit will it involve for them. I can remember several months ago how a contractor was charging the United States Navy an outrageous price for a screw that cost less than a dollar at the local Home Depot. This went on for a year, if my memory is correct but even if it isn't do we want something like to happen again? Ultimately we, the taxpayers, pay. Plug the holes and make us secure. "If you see something, Say Something" clearly helped in this incident as the police saw it but if he had not....

Astoria, NY

Frankly, I would have given the NYPD a 90 day community service sentence for security breach.

As for the Russian tourist, it seems kind of strange that he took close photos of the Brooklyn Bridge. I would have taken this as an act of terrorism. He should be further questioned and also some jail time.


Shame, shame on the part of police they are reactive again, something has to happen in order to improve safety, the tourist should receive a medal a valor for his act, first the flags now this, Bill Bratton should be fired, sent back to LA, if they would accept him.

Joco from Sunnyside

I would be reassured if the mayor & police commr held a brief press conference, given the tra threats tRgeting nyc & a politician few months ago stating his biggest fear was a nuke on nyc - a bizarre & dangerous flag to out Ie, so I'd be so grateful to be reassured by the ommr etc

so WISH Ray Kelly were still here - even if s.thing would've happened on his watch, i would've been ok w/ that, as it'd be the best effort 1 could expect, vs the self-centered, un-gifted, SPOILED group we have now (though, i'd put Bratton a bit higher on the scale than the others) re the tourist, community service ok if the media reports r the real story The germans, well. It's not art,...& they should be barred from this country for 7 years, eg No kidding- ungrateful, immature snarkiness, desecration of the flag,.... mean-spirited - & they dont meet the def of "art" - eg, art, raises the Spirit, not assaults &\or manipulates emotion,....

- Theresa



Hi John

The idiot that scaled the Brooklyn Bridge and the Base Jumpers that scaled to the top of one WTC should of gotten a 6 month jail sentence, we're living in a post 9-11 world the NYPD have to make the security tighter at all city landmarks so the public will feel safe and secure.


Hi John,

Everything is always after the fact. This is not the type of case for a plea deal to be made. This was a very serious crime committed because it has to do with security of a New York City Bridge. I would never give him community service even if the judge did suggest that if he likes the bridge so much he should enjoy cleaning it. But I would let him spend the time in jail so that he and any others that come along after him will know that we mean serious business. Plus we will all know where he will be for 90 days. If he gets community service then we have to wait for him to show up. Then what?. To me since we are always on alert the two cases are very serious acts to commit on our country.

Again I say just who is minding the store? That sentence that the judge was willing to give him is not serious enough since I don't consider these acts stunts at all. If any of these people did this in another country they would throw the book at them. I also forgot about the guys that were Base jumping/jumpers. I have to say that Bratton is not the same as he was the first time in New York. He looks like a beaten man. DeBlasio did appoint him commissioner and yet it clearly seems as though the mayor does not like he is in favor of Bratton.

Thank you John,

Every American can not have the same opinon but every American is being targeted by TERRORISTSand constant threats. The fact is this act against New York and the country needs to be escalated to a federal jurisdiction - As we slap this guy on the wrist the rest of the world laughs... Im all about peace but this is a time of war - Anyone who takes who takes this lightly lacks pride and honor in being American - broadcast that guys!


Anyone coming here from another country thrill-seeking on our sensitive landmarks should be penalized to the very fullest extent of the law and then forbidden from ever steeping foot on US soil again. We must take all such infractions seriously -- particularly given the high level of international instability now. If an American were to go to Moscow climbing the Kremlin or one of the Orthodox Cathedral towers s/he would be sent to Siberia never to be seen again.

Elise from Upper West Side

If someone tresspass @ the White House or the Capitol there would be A big outcry & the person would be prosecuted fully. If A person want to climb our landmarks the police sould do A compleate investigation to make sure that they are ok.


The Violators should have their VISA revoked immediately and turn over to their prospective embassy for deportation.


Our security is and was compromised. Its a wake up call again. And he should clean the bridge.


Throw the book at them . If they were middleasterns, they'd be in jail

Gary from East side

Larry from Manhattan here.

The American KID who climbed up the “Freedom Tower”
The Germans who switched the flags
The last guy who took pictures from the bridge
all show the lack of security, the lack of safety that we are under.
They should be praised for showing us how unsafe we are as a city.
The NYPD should have done something before. Clearly we are in trouble.

Unfortunately we have placed crimes into compartments based on who commits them. A man is dead for allegedly selling loose cigarettes and three men who climb an iconic landmark are offered community service.

Perhaps these trespassers should receive an immediate deportation with no possibility of returning to the USA for 5 years. Let the German government deal with them.

Hamilton Heights

I like the judges idea. Being vindictive on low level crimes like this is not a deterrent . Be more forceful on low level drug crimes regardless of race .

Park Hill

I feel the tourist that climbed the bridge shouldn't be prosecuted. I feel this way because he didn't pose a threat and I feel that trying to now fix the security issue involving the Brooklyn bridge is ridiculous and long over due. A couple of years back after 9/11, threats were made towards the bridge and there was no outstanding security securing the bridge. So if the city wants to be blaim anyone it should be the officials whom were in charge of the bridge's security.

-Naomi,22, Harlem

90 days in jail and a $5000 fine is sufficient.

Washington Heights

This is happening the same day the uk raised their threat level. This has to be thoroughly investigated and treated like a national security threat. Follow that due process.

Jorge from UES

The NYPD receives a failing grade twice for lack of vigilance when it pertains to overall NYer's safety. Either incident could have been disastrous, had it been someone with ill intent. This is what happens when "policing" has lost its "preserve and protect" credo;. clearly demonstrated by its most recent negative controversies.


"I believe the decision to jail the Russian tourist for 90 days is an adequate one. However he should not be let go without measures of probation. The suggestion of cleaning the bridge should also be implemented. On a broader perspective this suggests the weakness in our security. This should serve as a strong source of shame for the New York Police department as well as a motivation for them to work better and I hope the latter will be in effect."

Name: Farid
From: Jamaica New York

This is a serious infiltration which should be taken seriously and thoroughly investigated! He may be a messenger with the mission to explore! Remember the World Trade Center's earlier attack. They had the blueprint and worked on it feverishly until they succeeded. All our bridges and landmarks should be secured at a very high-level. The task should not fall simply on the policemen. Their work of surveillance helps but is elementary, more needs to be made.

Imagine if an American did that in the Soviet Union, he would be incarcerated for life.


Hi John,

I am shocked this man is not in Homeland Security's custody. This is a post 9/11 world and the Brooklyn Bridge is a landmark. Trespassing=terrorism. Plus he had a bookbag, what if he had a bomb? Needless to say anyone other person with more melanin in their skin would have been terminated on sight. He has and had absolutely no authority to be up there. On the other hand, these NYPD cameras have made the police lazy. They have made them reactive, not proactive against crime.


I think that he should not be held with any charges. If anything a warning should be given. Many people admire this beautiful city, and I don't think that penalizing someone is a way of showing gratitude from the city of New York. I feel like if this was to be prevented from happening in the first place, this wouldn't of happened in now.


Are we kidding? This is a tourist who should be sent back to his country & not let back into America EVER AGAIN! This is costing us money & it’s a disaster waiting to happen.

Crystal- Red Hook

He should get the same amount of time that the two journalists and the young kid from NJ received for trespassing at the World Trade Center. No believe are security guard lost his job at the World Trade Center.

Queens Village

Are the tourists that are suffocating this city running out things to do?

Lower East Side

Hey John -

Visiting from Florida as I do every year, I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge for the first time in 2012... It was amazing... The LAST thing on my mind was someone scaling those towers and doing anything terrorist related. Now it is. Any such "sightseeing" or "artistic" stunts at the Bridge or 1 WTC should not be condoned or brushed aside...ever.


Hi John;

The NYPD is not doing enough to protect NY against a terror attack; in the case of the flags, the terror czar said they had a lead on five people. A month later, German artists take credit for the act. Were they among the five people the Department had their eyes on?

We have to protect ALL bridges, tunnels, public transportation (inlcuding the tram). I think they should give the tourist a summons and send him home. The NYPD has to look inward to solve the problem of security breaches. I personally try to stay away from landmarks whenever possible.

Midtown East
Retired NYPD
New York Born & Raised

We are lucky these men showed us how easy it would be for a terrorist to attack the bridge. Its a lesson learned, fine the men for the cost to replace the flag and move on.


Should follow 90 days be hide bars community service and 1,000 fine, this example needs to applied for safety for people of nyc



Let the guy off. Arrest and prosecute Bill Bratton for committing real crimes of the violation of individual rights and restricting our freedom.

Port Richmond, SI


I agree with the judge. He likes the bridge so well, let him clean it. That's community service under the rules of NYC.

Jamaica, NY

We should thank and pay them for showing us how vulnerable we really are and removing the covers off the false sense of security that NYPD and homeland security keep trying to project. They should be viewed as two successful breaches of security with staggering death tolls and extensive property and environmental damage. Thank God they were only good citizens.

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