Spike in crime sparks push for park safety


| ctumola@queenscourier.com |

File photo
File photo

The city may continue to report decreasing crime rates, but its park safety is up for question.

Crime in city parks this spring was 44 percent higher compared to the same period last year, according to NYPD data.

From April 1 to June 30, 128 crimes were reported in the 31 city parks for which the police department reports stats.

During the same time in 2012 there were 89.

It’s the largest jump since 2006, when a law was passed requiring the NYPD to provide the City Council with park crime statistics, said Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., chair of the Council’s Public Safety Committee.

“[These stats] are obviously cause for alarm,” he said.

Flushing Meadows-Corona Park reported the most crimes of Queens parks, with 27 complaints, 12 more than the same time last year. These included 22 grand larcenies, two robberies, two felony assaults and one grand larceny/assault.

It was the second most crime-ridden park in the city, following Central Park, which had 37 complaints.

Six crimes were reported in Alley Pond Park and two in Forest Park during the same period.

In the wake of the crime jump and a rape in Forest Park last week, the second time a female jogger was tasered and then sexually assaulted there this year, there have been calls for Forest and Flushing Meadows to have their own precincts.

Central Park is the only city green space to have a dedicated NYPD precinct. Flushing Meadows, the fourth largest park in the city, at 898 acres, is slightly bigger than Central. Forest Park, the third largest green space in the borough after Alley Pond, is 544 acres.

“These are public spaces and people should feel safe,” said Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates.

The jump in crime, he said, is no doubt a result of the lack of dedicated officers assigned to the parks.

The NYPD did not comment as of press time, but Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has reportedly stated that park crime has been consistently low and only accounts for a small percentage of overall city crime.

Vallone wants to require the department to extend the crime reporting beyond 31 parks to every city park over one acre.

He said the NYPD says it’s only providing data for so few parks because they don’t have to submit the information if they don’t have the technology to do so.

“It’s now been seven years since the law was passed and it’s ridiculous to think that they haven’t been able to come up with this technology.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES