Police ask Brooklyn McDonald’s to turn off Wi-Fi to fight rising violence

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CROWN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn (PIX11) – Police in one Brooklyn neighborhood are asking a popular fast food chain to cut the internet connection to help cut crime.

Cops say they’ve seen an increase in phone robberies and fights around a Crown Heights McDonald’s.  So they’re hoping to diffuse the situation by turning off the Wi-Fi.  But most customers say they don’t think the plan will work.

“It be a lot of kids.  I mean a lot.  They be out of control,” said Kenneth Brown of Crown Heights.

People living in Crown Heights say teens have been terrorizing customers at this McDonald’s on Eastern Parkway and Utica Avenue.

“They come here, they be arguing, they be fighting, and sometimes the manager has to call the cops,” Brown says.

And the latest Crime Stats for the 77th Precinct back it up.  So far this year felony assaults are up 9 percent, robberies are up 19 percent and grand larceny is up almost 30 percent.

So to help bring those numbers down, the NYPD wants to cut the internet connection during the afternoon and early evening to discourage kids from hanging out.

Friday, McDonald’s confirmed it was exploring several techniques with the department, including shutting off the internet, but would not say whether or not they would actually be turning off the service.

Franchisee John Laurino told PIX11 News:

“We strive to be partners with the community and are working with the police to ensure the safety of our customers and employees. We are discussing many possible solutions with local authorities.”  But some say the real reason so many kids hang out at local fast-food chains is because they simply have no place else to go.

“What the police should do is find a place for the kids to go after school, supply them with Wi-Fi, and they can oversee them,” said local resident Kurt Denny.  “And many people say it’s not like the kids who are coming here to this McDonald’s on Eastern Parkway are doing their homework.  They’re not bringing tablets or laptops.  And even if they were using it to connect to the internet they say there are several other Wi-Fi connections in the area.  So they say cutting the connection won’t stop the kids from congregating here.”

“With or without the internet connection I feel like they’re here.  Even before they had a Wi-Fi here or a Wi-Fi at McDonald’s they used to still come here.  So that’s not the problem,” said student Sunshine Joseph.

And customers who use the Wi-Fi say they shouldn’t have to suffer because of the out of control kids.