The NYPD says it will keep a close eye on Christopher Columbus statues ahead of next month's Columbus Day parade.

Top brass say officers will try to prevent acts of vandalism leading up to the event.

But the city's top cop says their priority is protecting citizens.

"We know where the statues are, some of them we're giving extra patrol attention to," said NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill. "And we're doing some other things that I'd rather not talk about. It is not a priority for us. Our priority is to keep people safe and we do have to keep property safe. But we are paying attention to it and we're doing our best to make sure it doesn't happen."

Statues of Columbus have become targets amid a growing debate over monuments of controversial figures.

A statue of him in Central Park was vandalized earlier this month.