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NYC sends 1,000 officers to patrol as residents venture outside on sunny Saturday

"We encourage people to come out and enjoy this weather," Chief Terence Monahan said, but he warned parkgoers, "You cannot gather; you cannot barbecue."
Image: Central Park
People in face masks walk their dogs as cyclists and runners pass them in Central Park on Saturday in Manhattan, N.Y.Frank Franklin II / AP

As New York City residents ventured outside to enjoy a sunny Saturday, police sent 1,000 officers to ensure they abided by social distancing rules that remain in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

"This is the nicest weather we've seen this year; we encourage people to come out and enjoy this weather," Terence Monahan, Chief of Department for the New York Police Department, told NBC News.

But, he reminded residents out enjoying the city's parks, "You cannot gather; you cannot barbecue. We're going to give you a summons. There's been enough warnings."

He said the NYPD would have bike teams and mounted units on horseback throughout the parks, as well as aviation units working to spot problem areas.

Monahan said officers will not issue summonses for people who don't have face coverings, but officers will have packs of cloth masks to hand out to those who need them.

He said he hopes his officers won't have to issue any summonses.

"The vast majority of times people have complied," he said. "But there's been some people who think they can do whatever they want. They endanger my cops; they endanger each other."

Lt. Adam Mellusi, who regularly commands patrols in the Bronx, is leading a group of a dozen officers on bikes. He said his team was assigned to all of the parks in the five boroughs.

"If there's large-scale barbecues and drinking, we're going to issue a summons," he said, adding that most New Yorkers support the officers' patrolling the parks and have "actually thanked us for being out here."