The men were ticketed for failing to comply with signs advising: “Adults allowed in playground areas only when accompanied by a child under the age of 12.” / AFP
Source: AFP

ROOKIE mistake? maybe.

A squad of police officers in bulletproof vests swooped into an upper Manhattan park in New York and charged seven men with the “crime” of playing chess in an area off-limits to adults unaccompanied by kids – even though no youngsters were there, the New York Post said.

“Is chess really something that should be considered a threat to the neighbourhood?” Inwood resident and mum Joanne Johnson wrote Mayor Bloomberg, the City Council and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly after the raid.

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“This incident is an embarrassment to the officers from the 34th Precinct who felt that it was necessary to use their badge and authority to issue such a random summons.”

All seven suspects were issued with desk-appearance tickets, the site said.

The chess tables where they were ticketed for “failure to comply with signs” are in a fenced-in area where posted notices read: “Adults allowed in playground areas only when accompanied by a child under the age of 12.”

Police said the rule protects kids from paedophiles or others who might want to harm them, the site said.

A police source added, “It’s the broken windows theory … small things can turn into bigger things. Some citizens may see it as police harassment, but God forbid something happens to a child, people would be complaining, Why didn’t the police enforce these rules? That’s what they would be griping about.”

– with Dan Mangan

Read more and see a picture of one of the “offenders” at the New York Post.