A call for more transparency when it comes to park crime

The NYPD collects crime statistics for only thirty parks, and councilmembers say collection methods are outdated and prone to inaccuracies.

The NYPD needs to do a better job of recording crimes that happen in the
city’s parks, some elected officials in the city demand.

Council members are stepping up the fight for better park safety in the wake of four rapes in city parks in as many weeks.

On the heels of Speaker Christine Quinn’s urging over the weekend against budget cuts to the NYPD and Parks Enforcement Patrol, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio yesterday called on Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the NYPD to improve the crime statistics reporting for NYC parks.

In 2005, Queens Councilman Peter Vallone introduced a bill that mandated that seven major felony crime complaints be tracked in city parks. Prior to this bill, the crimes would be reported as occurring at the nearest street address.

That bill became a law, but the crime stats reporting program was supposed to expand incrementally and eventually include all city parks over one acre. But the NYPD stopped at just 30 parks, alleging that they’re technologically incapable of covering more than 30 parks, according to Vallone.

Vallone characterizes the “technology” used to generate this data as very old-fashioned: Vallone says an individual detective sifts through every crime report, and must read the actual write-up of every crime in order to determine whether the crime occurred inside or outside of a park.

“New York City practically invented data-driven policing,” de Blasio said. “There’s no excuse for failing to take that same approach to our parks, where crime is on the rise.”

De Blasio’s office is encouraging the NYPD and the Mayor’s office to consider using more advanced technology, and noted that other intake systems, such as 311, allow geo-coding of complaints made off the street grid.

When asked if such technology had been or would be considered, the Mayor’s office and the NYPD did not respond.

Where to find park crime data

Even though all city crime is reported on the NYPD website, reports of park crimes — for the 30 parks for which crime is reported — is only available on this third-party website, according to Council Member Vallone: http://www.ny4p.org.  Vallone says that the 2005 law requires the NYPD to turn over the data to the City Council, who then pass it on to the advocates to make public. The website has statistics dating as far back as 2006.


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