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Crime: Hidden dangers lurk in New York's parks

As the weather warms up and New Yorkers prepare for picnics in the park, they should be on guard: Crime is increasing, while patrols are decreasing.

As the weather warms up and New Yorkers prepare for summer picnics in the park, they should be on guard: Crime is increasing, while police patrols are decreasing.

The City Council met yesterday to discuss park police protection, which some say is flimsy despite a 24 percent increase in major crimes like robbery and rape last year, according to NYPD data.

And yet the Parks Department has stopped hiring patrol officers, meaning less surveillance.

The city employs only 92 Park Enforcement Patrol officers for its 29,000 acres of parkland. Three years ago, there were 134 officers, according to the Parks Department.

Manhattan gets the largest chunk of manpower — 55 P.E.P. officers and urban rangers guard Manhattan’s parks. Tiny, six-acre Bryant Park even has 22 private security guards.

Meanwhile, in the Bronx only nine P.E.P. officers are responsible for nearly 7,000 acres. According to Geoffrey Croft of NYC Park Advocates, Crotona Park in the Bronx is the least safe in the city; robberies jumped from five to 25 there last year.

The city only puts officers in parks in the wealthiest areas, some Council members accused. “It’s unfair,” Queens Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said.

Despite a documented crime spike, Parks Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh told the Council he wasn’t aware of any increase.

Best and worst

Most dangerous parks in the city:

» Crotona Park: Robberies increased from five in 2009 to 25 in 2010
» Central Park: Rapes rose from zero in 2009 to seven in 2010
» Riverside Park: Felony assaults went from one in 2009 to nine in 2010
» Flushing Meadows/Corona Park: Robberies increased from two in 2009 to 10 in 2010

And the safest:

» Hudson River Park has 27 security guards
» Bryant Park employs 22 private guards
» The High Line keeps at least four patrolling officers
» Battery Park maintains 33 patrolling officers


 
 
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