Park and Playground Violence Explodes
Five Parks Responsible For 67% of Park Crime in 2011
14-year-old Kemar Bryan Brooks was gunned down in Haffen Park in the Bronx after playing tennis on July 27th. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates)
Three teens were shot last night, including a girl, in Agnes Haywood Playground in the Bronx.
By Geoffrey Croft
Violence in the city parks and playgrounds exploded in July resulting in multiple deaths and injuries from shootings and stabbings.
According to figures complied by NYC Park Advocates In July alone 13 people were shot, resulting 4 deaths and 9 injuries, two people were stabbed, one fatally.
On July 30th, a Spanish tourist was attacked by a man with a hammer in City Hall Park.
On July 27th, a 14-year-old boy was gunned down in Haffen Park in the Bronx after playing tennis
On July 25th, five people were wounded when a gunman opened fire at a basketball tournament at Rucker Park in Harlem.
A few days earlier 4-year-old, Lloyd Morgan was killed in a playground by a stray bullet shot at a basketball game in the Bronx, to name just a few.
On July 13, 2012 a man was shot in eye in Evergreen Playground in Brooklyn while playing basketball.
Park Crime Up 24% Since 2009
Since 2009 Park crime is up 24% according to the latest figures complied by the city.
Crime rose sharply according to the latest figures of the 7 major crimes tracked by the NYPD city-wide in 31 of the largest parks - jumping from 265 in 2009 compared to 327 in 2011.
The top five reported crime parks were responsible for more than two thirds (67%) of park crime citywide with 225 recorded. Central Park - (Man), Flushing Meadow Corona Park - (Qns) Riverside Park - (Man) Prospect Park - (Bkn) Crotona Park. (See breakdown below)
Report says park crime on the rise
This number however represents only a faction of crime occurring in parks because the Police and Parks Department have refused to comply with the 2005 law which requires them to track and report crime in parks. Currently the Police Department only tracks crime in 31 parks, including the Fresh Kills landfill. The Parks Department does not comply with the 2005 law at all.
Critics also point out the ranks of the only uniformed police dedicated to city parks have been decimated.
At the time of young Kemar's murder on July 27th not a single Park Enforcement Patrol (PEP) officer was available to patrol the Bronx's more than 7,000 acres of parkland due to dramatic staffing cuts. Queens has just one dedicated PEP officer available for patrol for one eight hour shift daily and Brooklyn has only two.
Critics charge that under Bloomberg, Parks Commissioner Adrain Benepe has been methodically dismantling PEP. They have lost 42% of their officers since 2008 according to Benepe.
Several City Council members have told A Walk In The Park when they have asked the Parks Commissioner about restoring funding for PEP he discouraged it saying they weren't a priority and crime in parks was being overblown.
Park officials meanwhile continue to their attempt to minimize the number of crime incidents and the lack of officers by repeatedly maintaining that parks are "safer than they've ever been."
Meanwhile in another "Bloomberg moment" the Mayor recently said on his weekly Friday WOR radio show that increasing the number of police was not going to make a difference in lowering the murder rate city-wide.
"If you had more cops, would you get it down even more. I don’t think so.”
Top 5 Parks For Reported Crime (2009 - 2011)
Central Park - (Man) 99 ( vs. 65 in 2009 and 98 in 2010)
Flushing Meadow Corona Park - (Qns) 46 (vs. 54. in 2009 and 52 in 2010)
Riverside Park - (Man) 28 (vs. 29 in 2009 and 32 in 2010)
Prospect Park - (Bkn) 27 (vs. 19. in 2009 and 19 in 2010)
Crotona Park - (Bx) 20 (vs. 7 in 2009 and 36 in 2010)
Rounding out the Top 10:
Randall's Island - 18
Bronx Park - 14
Highbridge Park (Man) - 11
van cout (Bx) - 9
Kessina Park - (Qns) 8
Cunningham Park ( Qns)
Pelham bay - (Bx) 7
Marine Park - 6
Forest Park - 6
Alley Pond - 6
Fort Washington - 5
The borough of Queens had the most number of parks with multiple reported incidents
Murder - Bronx Park - 2
Rape - Crotona Park - 2, Forrest Park - 2,
Robbery - Riverside - 15, Crotona - 8, Prospect - 8,
Felony Assault - Crotona Pk - 4, Van Cortlandt - 2,
Burglary - Randall's Island - 8, Flushing Meadow Corona Park 5,
Grand Larceny - Flushing Meadow Corona Park 24, Riverside Park 10,
G.L.A. (Auto) - Flushing Meadow Corona Park 2,
Source: NYC Park Advocates, NYPD Comstat
Metro - NY - August 8, 2012 - Amanda Barker