And that's the good news: During the summer the number of PEP officers available for patrol declines even more as the majority of its personnel, including seasonal workers, are deployed to beaches and pools. This further leaves the vast majority of the Parks Department's 29,000 acres further unprotected.
Manhattan's parks have the cash—and the safety patrol that comes with it. As crime rises in the city's parks and the number of patrolling officers decreases, Manhattan's privately managed parkland has plenty of officers on hand, according to the Epoch Times.
Outer boroughs are “getting the short end of the stick,” because they rely on public funds, said Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras of Queens. Private entities, such as Battery Park City Authority, Hudson River Park Trust, and Central Park Conservancy, are drawn to the “sexy” parks of Manhattan, as Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito put it.
Deputy Commissioner of Parks and Recreation Liam Kavanaugh provided a higher number, 92, which more than doubled Croft's count. Croft said Kavanaugh's numbers include officers stationed in recreation centers, as well as officers on vacation, sick leave, or otherwise occupied but not actually walking through the parks.
At one point, the deputy commissioner was asked to account for 209 sworn PEP officers. His figures totaled 149.
Kavanaugh said the privatestewardship of parks is a great relief to the city, allowing the Department of Parks and Recreation to use its resources elsewhere.
Manhattan has half the parkland of any other borough, 102 NYPD officers at the Central Park Precinct, and a wealth of private PEP officers. However, more publicly funded officers are still allocated to the borough.
“Manhattan has the highest population density of any borough and the lowest per-capita parkland, and that creates much more regular use in the parks than we see in other boroughs. The day-time population increases to 4.2 million people, because of all the people who come to work here,” explained Kavanaugh. He also noted that 38 percent of the 311 calls related to parks come from Manhattan, and 45 percent of calls to the Parks Department relate to Manhattan parks.
Ferreras' rebuttal was quick and cutting: “The reality is that my community has a very tough time in understanding why their services are being taken away, and 311 isn't the first thing they're thinking about. They're trying to pay their rent; they're trying to survive; they're trying to learn English. They're trying to participate in this New York society that we're talking about, and 311 isn't necessarily part of the culture.”
Flushing Meadows in Queens spans more than 1,000 acres and has two officers on patrol. If anything happens in the park, it would be nearly impossible to find an officer, Ferreras said.
The city's parks saw a 24 percent increase in crime in 2010, noted Croft. Kavanaugh denied any rise in crime, but NYPD has confirmed an increase.
When asked why he did not hire as many PEP officers as was allotted in the budget, the deputy commissioner responded that there is no specific allotment for PEP officers in the budget.