Volume 76, Number 23 | October 25 - 31, 2006

Guardian Angels swoop down on pot dealer on Christopher

By Lincoln Anderson

Pot peddlers around Christopher St. beware. The Guardian Angels have their eyes on you — and might very well help in arresting you.

That’s the message the Angels, as well as the local police, are sending after last Friday night, when a group of Guardian Angels walking the streets with the Christopher St. Patrol ran down a marijuana dealer and then held him for police to arrest.

For 16 years, members of the Guardian Angels, the volunteer anticrime group founded by Curtis Sliwa, have been patrolling the Christopher St. area with the Christopher St. Patrol, a neighborhood volunteer anticrime group.

On Friday night, five Angels and David Poster, president of the Christopher St. Patrol, spotted a pot deal going down at Christopher and Hudson Sts. Realizing the Christopher St. Patrol was onto him, the dealer bolted, but the patrol caught up to him at Christopher and Bedford Sts. The dealer tried to fight them off, and one Angel’s hand was injured. But, by virtue of their numbers, they were able to hold him.

“I was leading the patrol,” recounted Poster earlier this week. “We pursued him and caught him across from the Lucille Lortel Theatre. He wasn’t huge, but he was strong. … I called 911 and within two minutes the police were there and they made the arrest.

“There were some kids on the street who said we should leave him alone,” Poster added. “We said he was selling drugs. … There’s still a lot of things happening when it was a cold night. … The kids on the street feel it’s O.K. to do this. There’s pot, there’s crack out there. It’s a total disrespect to the community. That’s what we have to contend with.”

Detective Mike Singer, Sixth Precinct community affairs officer, identified the suspect as John Biaty, 23, from Queens. He said police found 38 bags of marijuana on him, tucked in his pockets and underwear, among other places.

Because someone must be caught with a substantial amount of pot for it to be a felony, Biaty’s arrest is only a misdemeanor. Dealers know exactly how much pot constitutes a felony weight, so they typically might have other helpers who are “holding” for them, Singer explained.

“They saw the drugs and the money being exchanged,” said Singer of the Angels. “They didn’t hurt anybody,” he added, praising them for how they handled the situation.

The Angels who held the man for arrest were identified by their street code names: Crazy J, Midnight, Shaggy, Big Mike and Big J.

“We’re going to give them an award, but we can’t do it until the conviction,” said Singer. Last year, the precinct similarly gave the Angels and patrol an award for helping in an arrest.

Singer said the patrol and Angels are a big help in combating crime in the area. Dealers and others will notice uniformed police officers and so will keep their activities low profile. Plainclothes officers, on the other hand, are more effective in busting drug dealers, but their number is limited. The Angels help pick up the slack, Singer said.

When the Guardian Angels first started patrolling — initially only in subway trains — many police looked askance at them, fearing they would be little more than dangerous vigilantes. But Singer, for one, said he’s become sold on their effectiveness in fighting crime.

“I don’t think they get enough credit for what they do,” he said.

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