Keeping New Yorkers safe during the coronavirus crisis is no walk in the park for Sgt. Constantinos Mitsotakis.
The city parks patrol enforcement officer recently worked 16 hours a day for 28 days in a row to make sure visitors to Central Park and other Manhattan green spaces were staying six feet apart while getting some sun and fresh air.
But that’s all part of the gig, according to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation employee.
“I feel a sense of duty to continue doing my job, especially when times are difficult,” Mitsotakis, 29, told The Post. “We’re all public servants. So we have to do our jobs, not only during the good times, but difficult times as well.”
At the height of the crisis, the Brooklynite was arriving for work at 8 a.m., and typically not returning home until 11 or 12 that night.
“We had a lot of people out, our captain was out for a little while. The sergeants for Central Park were out for over a week each, one of them up to three weeks, and we’ve just been trying to pick up the slack and do the best we can,” Mitsotakis said.
He spends most of his day enforcing social distancing, responding to 311 complaints and educating misinformed New Yorkers about the dangers of the virus, and how their outings could be impacting others.
“We try to have them see both sides because if it’s somebody who’s young and feels like they’re not in the groups that are at higher risk, we try to explain that their actions can also impact others,” Mitsotakis said, adding most New Yorkers are complying.
“Even if they feel like if they contracted the virus that they would be okay, they may give it to somebody else who may not be okay or who might be at a higher risk. When you frame it that way, people have an easier time seeing how they’re helping others by trying to lower the spread of the virus and mitigate risk for all New Yorkers.”
The native New Yorker, who took a much-needed respite from the marathon workload on May 1, sent his dog Grumpy and his kitty Mr. Cat to live with his parents upstate because he wouldn’t be around to care for them.
He said he misses his two pets “immensely” but he needs to be there for his city when they need him the most.
“We have an important role to play where we help to spread the word from the doctors and our city officials that are giving guidelines of what we can all do as New Yorkers and people of our city to help slow the spread of this virus,” Mitsotakis said.
“It helps support our health care workers and everyone doing everything they can to aid in slowing the virus and just trying to make everything better and to get back to a point of normalcy,” he went on.
“It is a risk. But it’s a risk that we signed up for when we applied and took our job and it’s fulfilling to do our jobs, especially during the difficult times, because that’s what we signed up for.”
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