Monday, June 20, 2011

Arrests In Union Sq. Park Up 320 %

Last week the NYPD placed a Mobile Communication Command Center to respond to crime plagued Union Square Park. Police have made 98 arrests in the 6 acre park from January to June 5th, the most arrests of all other parks combined. (Photos:© Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) click on images to enlarge


By Geoffrey Croft

Arrests are up 320% in the crime plagued Union Square Park according to NYPD statistics, according to the New York Post.

From January to June 5th, police made 98 arrests compared to 30 during the same period in 2010. Police have made more arrests in the six acre Union Square Park than in all other parks combined according to enforcement sources.

By comparison Central Park reported just 20 major crimes during the same period for the park's 843 acres.

Police have responded dramatically by flooding the park with undercover officers and have stepped up regular patrols to respond to conditions in and around the park.

Last week the police parked a Mobile Command center on the east side of the park equipped with external cameras that are focusing on locations in the park including an area dubbed Methadone Alley by law enforcement officials.

Police made 65 drug arrests inside the park and perimeter up to June 9th, compared to 24 during the same period last year according to NYPD statistics.

NYPD summonses for public drinking were 99 compared to 31 from January to June 5th.

The Parks Department's Park Enforcement Patrol also issued 135 summonses over the last two months: 71 in April including 35 for open container, and 64 summonses in May - 39 for open container according to NYC Park Advocates. The Parks Department refused to supply the numbers to the Post.

The Union Square crime numbers offer a rare look into world of park crime. The City refuses to comply with Local Law 114 (2005) which mandates the reporting the tracking and reporting of crimes in parks and playgrounds 1 acre and greater. Currently the City tracks crimes in only 30 of the city's 1, 700 parks and playgrounds. Compounding the problem, the city has repeatedly tried to mislead the public on PEP deployment numbers and and minimize amount of crime in parks.

"The park was a mess," said an NYPD officer. "We're going to be here a while."

Last month Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe attempted to play down the crime wave when he compared it to the bad old days.

And just last week
the commissioner accused people of exaggerating the amount of crime in order to cause panic, after
elected officials and community members
renewed their call to provide more security in parks.

Crime has increased so much in the park that 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.

On Saturday morning, June 18, 2011, 46 -year-old male collapsed approximately a half hour after being treated at a local methadone clinic. The man reportedly drank beer after the treatment according to a witness. He was treated by nurse who was passing by when she saw him requiring medical attention. The man was transported to Bellevue Hospital.

"We've increased our enforcement in the park and we are continuing the deployment of officers in and around the park to address quality of life issues," a NYPD spokesperson told the New York Post.

Last month 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.

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly visited the park on May 19th to assess the situation.

Due to the crackdown, several law enforcement personnel said some of the former Union Square Park denizens have migrated south to Washington Square Park.

On Thursday June 9th, five people were shot on the Park Department's Brighton Beach Boardwalk including a 16-year old East Harlem girl who was tragically killed.

Over the last twelve weeks alone, there have been twelve shootings, including five deaths, and more than a dozen stabbings and muggings and numerous sexual assaults. Since January there have more than 150 arrests on park land including 98 in Union Square Park alone. And the Summer has yet to begin.

In 2010, crime in parks grew 24%, according NYPD figures.

Cameras from the NYPD's Mobile Command center keep a watchful eye on Methadone Alley in Union Square Park.

Read More:

Eyewitness News - June 21, 2011 - By Tim Fleischer

New York Post - June 20, 2011 - By John Doyle

gothamist - June 20, 2011 - By Garth Johnston

The Chief - June 20, 2011 - By David Sims

A Walk In The Park - June 15, 2011 - By Geoffrey Croft

A Walk In The Park - My 22, 2011 - By Geoffrey Croft

A Walk In The Park - May 17, 2011 - Geoffrey Croft


  1. who cares? its only crime. we have better things to do, like stopping people from selling art in the park.

  2. I think we should let wild pitbulls run free in the park. this would save money on enforcement.

  3. We live near the Maurice A Fitzgerald Playground a 1.1 acre park in Queens (106 Street & Atlantic Avenue) which is supposed to be closed at 9 PM, but since the gates are never shut there's a constant flow of humanity at almost any hour of any day or time of year. Especially problematic this year are the basketball players who come out every night about 10 PM and who often stay until 2-3 AM. With every shot taken there has to be some kind whoop and holler and the requisite "MFN".

    Calls to the local 102 Precinct or 311 produce the bullshit response of either "no violation observed" or "action not necessary". How the hell can that be?

    Of course, in addition to the hoop players we also get drunken teens running through the children's play area, plain old drunks, unescorted children squealing at midnight and assorted other malevolent miscreants. And what is the response from the police? "We see nothing"?

    You might ask "Where's the crime in that?" Well, how about earlier this spring when I was returning home I had a moron come out of the park to threaten me? Luckily I had a whistle which kept him at enough of a distance from me so that I could safely enter my house. And what did the police do when I called them? Not a damned thing!

    I think that it's long overdue that another inquiry was made into police corruption along the lines of the Knapp and Mollen Commissions.