Union Square Park - May 21, 2011. Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe speaks with park employees including an enforcement officer along Methadone Alley, a bench-lined path located on the East Side of Union Square Park yesterday. Police have made 182 arrests in the park and surrounding area from April 1 - May 9th alone. Besides making arrests, Park Enforcement Patrol (PEP) have also issued 71 summons in April, and 50 through May 21st, including 30 for alcohol. Last week the commissioner attempted to play down the conditions. (Photos: © Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates.) Click on images to enlarge.
By Geoffrey Croft
The City's top cop and its Parks Commissioner both visited the city's most crime plagued park this week. Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe took time out on Its My Park Day to visit Union Square Park's Methadone Alley yesterday afternoon. The commissioner just missed an incident where a man was inhaling a computer dust cleaner and was asked to leave the park. Earlier in the day another unconscious male was transported from Methadone Alley to Beth Israel hospital.
Mr. Benepe's visit came less than two days after NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly visited the troubled area on Thursday evening in the rain.
Last week we reported that the Police had made 182 arrests in the park and vicinity from April 1- May 9th alone. Since January the NYPD made 84 narcotic arrests in the 6 acre park. Most of the drug related incidents have occurred on the Park's East path - aka Methadone Alley.
The Parks Commissioner attempted to play down the crime wave when he compared it to the bad old days.
Police have responded by dramatically stepping up enforcement in the park and surrounding area to include 24 hour coverage. They have assigned special teams of patrols including undercover operations and are conducting sweeps of the park. Crime has increased so much the local BID now pays for a detail of off duty NYPD officers during week and two on Friday's. They also pay for two dedicated Park Enforcement Officers in addition to their own security which patrol the park.
Unfortunately people passed out on benches along the East Side of the park is a regular sight. Yesterday morning around 10:15am another unconscious person was transported from Methadone Alley to Beth Israel hospital. Since January the NYPD made 84 narcotic arrests in the 6 acre park. Most of the drug related incidents have occurred on the Park's East path. Park Enforcement Patrol (PEP) have issued 71 summons in April, and 50 through May 21st, including 30 for alcohol.
The city held a meeting inside the Children's Pavilion on the North end of the park on May 10th to address the condition. More than a dozen city officials attended including representatives from the NYPD, the DA's office, Homeless Services, the Parks Department and the Union Square Partnership. The hour and a half meeting concluded with a tour of the park.
"The Precinct Conditions team patrol the area 24 hours a day," the NYPD said in a statement last week. "As a result of the quality of life complaints in and around Union Square Park, the Commanding Officer of the 13th Precinct has assigned an officer to the park daily during the hours of 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. The Precinct Conditions team patrol the area 24 hours a day. This security is augmented by a Paid Detail officer from noon to 8:00 pm. An additional Paid Detail officer is assigned on Fridays during the evening hours until the park is closed."
A Walk In The Park - May 17, 2011 - Geoffrey Croft