2012 sees spike in violent summer crime in New York City’s parks

NYPD Crime Scene Investigators dust for prints at the scene of the alleged rape at Dinosaur Park, at 96th and Riverside.

A young woman was raped early Monday morning just steps away from a popular kid’s playground on the Upper West Side, New York City police confirmed to Metro.

The woman, 19, was attacked shortly after 2 a.m. feet from Dinosaur playground, between W. 96th and 97th streets in Riverside Park, in the 24th precinct. After calling the police, she was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital in stable condition, and the victim returned to the park with detectives from the special victims unit Monday afternoon to give her account of the rape.

She did not know her attacker, according to reports, suspected to be a Hispanic man.
           

The sexual assault caps off a summer of increased violent crime in city parks. So far this summer there have been at least 23 shootings or stabbings in city parks, compared to about 14 similar incidents last year, according to well-known parks activist Geoffrey Croft, who runs the group New York City Parks Advocates and the blog A Walk in the Park.

Four people were stabbed Saturday evening at Half-Nelson playground in the Morris Heights neighborhood of the Bronx, Croft said.

The victims were leaving a barbecue in the park when the fight broke out, police said. Three women were injured in the stabbing — a 39-year-old was stabbed in the back, an 18-year-old was stabbed in the torso, and a 19-year-old woman was stabbed in her stomach. A 17-year-old boy was also treated for a wounded arm after the fight. All of the victims were taken to local hospitals in stable condition.

Even Union Square Park has seen violence, where several fights have broken out, including one on Friday night. Croft said tension is high at that park among the homeless and Occupy Wall Street protestors.

This summer’s spike is significantly higher than last summer, Croft said, where he estimated about 13 or 14 armed attacks happened within park limits. Crime in parks often increases during the summer, he said, when New Yorkers are outside more.

Croft said more law enforcement is needed to combat the violence.

“We have way too many illegal guns out there, far too few police officers, too few park enforcement officers,” he said. “People are taking out their aggressions on the public.”

The Parks Dept. referred all questions about the violent crime increase to police, and the NYPD did not respond to an email for comment.

Not all park crime recorded by location

The NYPD didn’t begin tracking crime by specific parks until 2005. Before then, reports were attributed to the nearest street address, except for those in Central Park.

The NYPD only tracks crime in 30 of the city’s parks. There are more than 1,700 parks, playgrounds and recreational facilities in the city.

1360 major crimes were reported at the 30 city parks between April 2008 and June 2012, including 28 rapes.

Source: New Yorkers For Parks


All photos by Jeremy Sparig/Metro


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