The city is finally getting an additional 81 Parks Enforcement Patrol Officers, a security boost that city officials have long said is much needed.
Last year, there was an eight percent increase in park crimes, while overall crime increased by only four percent.
"Crime is rising in our parks, and a handful of officer to keep an entire borough of parkland safe just won't cut it," Councilman Peter Vallone said.
There are currently about 90 officers patrolling citywide, according PEP union leader Joe Puleo. Puleo said that amounts to any average of about five per borough on any given day.
Puleo said the additional officers will boost the number of PEP on patrol to nine or 10 per borough daily.
"For a whole borough, that's very minimal to say the least," Puleo said. "10 people would be minimally adequate for Flushing Meadow Park alone."
Last summer, most officers were assigned to beaches and pools, leaving all of Queens' parks with one lone PEP officer.
Puleo estimates the city really needs 100 officers daily, which has never happened. In the mid-1990s, there was a total of 450 PEP officers, resulting in about 50 a day, which Puleo said was "at least effective."
Having more officers would allow the Parks Enforcement Patrol to be a preventive force, rather than simply responding to incidents that have already occurred, Puleo said.
Four women were raped in parks last year in the month of September alone.
"The visibility factor is key," Puleo said. "When officers are seen, people don't try to commit crimes."
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