Park Slope may simply be oblivious to the dark reality just beyond its freshly swept stoops. “That’s a big shock to me, and it’s funny, because there’s a police lieutenant that lives on the block,” said Joe. Joe’s house is on 7th Street, one of the shifting brownstone walls, along with Carroll, Union, 2nd and 10th streets, of Mr. Perez’s “office.”
Joe is a savvy guy, too. He used to live over on 10th Street in the 1980s, when it was the wrong side of the 7th Avenue station. “Every morning, there used to be a pile of auto glass somewhere on the block, at least one,” he recalled. Still, the community has maybe gotten a little too comfortable with its apparent safety. “Today, a lot of people here came from somewhere else, and all they know is new Brooklyn,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “They don’t have the same antenna.”
Paula, who lives in a stunning Queen Anne-style home on Carroll Street with her young Brooklyn brood falls safely into this new crowd. Only a few years out of Manhattan, she had not heard about the heroin ring, but she was not surprised by its existence, either. “The recession is definitely making more crime here and there,” she said, after scolding one of her tykes for opening the door to this stranger with his pen and pad. (“Hold on, we have to teach a lesson,” she said, before politely shutting the door on The Observer for a good 30 seconds of tsk-tsking.) Among the other crimes visited on this tree-lined stretch: a few construction sites were broken into, the wheels off a Lexus had been boosted, and, in that most serious of Slope capers, a deliveryman from Blue Ribbon Sushi was mugged. The block has since been crossed off the delivery route.
Around the corner at the Tea Lounge, Slopers were getting their socially acceptable fix. Outside, a middle-aged threesome was chatting. Aimee believed the heroin was very much intended for her neighbors. “People associate drugs with certain communities, with ghettos, but they forget that doctors use drugs and lawyers use drugs, and they go about it in a more slick way,” she said. “Just because people are buying cappuccinos and shoes and strollers doesn’t mean there aren’t drugs going on. There may be more drugs, and it’s not investigated, and that’s the real crime.”
Kasia was chain smoking Camels as her dog sat quietly at her galoshed feet. The Flatbush-born, Upper East Side-residing Columbia student preferred crack and other uppers, though now she was largely clean. Still, she knew those who preferred the mellowing embrace of Heroin. “I have a friend who’s pretty high-functioning, in terms of work and paying the rent and all that, and she pretty frequently shoots up,” Kasia said. “But sometimes she shoots crack, too, so I don’t know what that says about her. She’s actually doing better than I am.”
A man who calls himself the Sticker Dude-it was embroidered on his jean shirt-and who has lived in Park Slope for 20 years, had just finished performing “If You’re Happy and You Know It” for a passing family on his banjo. He was not thrilled with The Observer‘s line of questioning, but he did offer an unusual explanation. “I think there’s a compound in Park Slope that’s maybe five times bigger than in any other neighborhood. In that compound, there are elements, bad elements, and they keep indoors like they are being watched. And perhaps some day the helicopters will come into that compound and take everyone away, and they will be replaced with a new set of people and the neighborhood will keep changing.”
His parting words to The Observer were that we “stop fishing for some nonsense story.”
Outside of the 78th Precinct just across Flatbush Avenue in Prospect Heights-which covers everything from the avenue south to the Prospect Expressway-officers were getting in from patrolling the mean streets of the Slope and the Terrace. The Observer collared one officer to ask him about the heroin ring.
“I hate to break it to you, bro, but this shit is everywhere, it’s world wide, and it’s not new,” he said. “Since the first guy started chewing on cocoa leaves, this has been going on. It doesn’t matter if it’s Paris Hilton snorting coke, probably snorting God knows what, or the bum on the street stealing $20 to get his fix. It’s not as bad as the 80’s, but it’s bad. Some people say that meth now is as bad as crack then. And heroin’s there, too, sure, same as ever. And coke. And pot. Everything.” His disbelief grew as he rattled off the facts, shocked by our apparent ignorance.
“Google it, bro. You’ll see.”