Sunday, September 16, 2012

Parks Department Refuses To Answer Questions About Rapes On It's land - Employees Told Not To Report Crimes?

On Wednesday police investigated the rape & mugging of a 73-year-old woman in Central Park late in Strawberry Fields. On Monday a 56-year-old woman was raped and pushed over a railing and fell 20 feet from the second story of Pier 15 in lower Manhattan. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates)

"I'll tell you what, the park employee who begged me never to reveal his name once told me that they were actually told not to report things in Strawberry Fields anymore." - Jackie interviewed on 1010 WINS.


By Geoffrey Croft

For the second time in four days the parks department's press office refused to answer questions regarding agency employees that involved a rape on a park property and instead referred queries to the Police Department.

On Saturday the New York Times reported when the 73-year-old woman was raped in Central Park and encountered a man masturbating in the wooded Ramble area two weeks ago, she not only took his photograph, but also reported the incident to a park ranger.

"Some of the newspapers mentioned that after I saw the guy masturbating, I didn’t report it. I did. I reported it,” the woman naturally upset said in an interview outside her apartment on the Upper West Side, according to the Times.

“There was a park ranger who came by, and I stopped him immediately and showed him the picture. And I said: ‘Look at this picture. This guy is in the Ramble.’ And the ranger said, ‘Oh, O.K., I’ll look out for him.’ ”

"Vickie Karp, a spokeswoman for the parks department, referred questions about whether the victim approached a ranger and what rangers’ responsibilities are in such situations to the Police Department. "

The police department has absolutely no jurisdiction or connection to park workers which Ms. Karp is fully aware of.

What is not known at this time despite numerous requests from the Parks Department is if in fact the victim reported it to an actual Park Ranger or any number of other park personnel including Central Park Conservancy workers, welfare workers, maintenance personal, volunteers etc. The public is often confused about park rangers as well as PEP as there are many people with similar uniforms.

Ms. Karp's refusal to answer these questions about a park employee and protocol is completely unacceptable. Who the victim reported it to and what their responsibilities are is a very serious matter that raises many issues including potential legal liability on behalf of the city - i.e. if the rape and robbery could have been avoided had it been properly followed up on.

It is imperative we find out exactly who the victim reported it to, if the parks department knows who the employee is and if not if the agency has launched an investigation into this serious matter. We need to get to the bottom of this.

The article had initially reported that rangers, who work for the New York City parks department, are not law-enforcement officers - that has since been corrected.

Park Rangers are law enforcement officers and have the exact same peace officer status as NYPD Officers.

Jackie, interviewed on 1010 WINS and described as a frequent parks user said, "I'll tell you what, the park employee who begged me never to reveal his name once told me that they were actually told not to report things in Strawberry Fields anymore."

Multiple park sources have told us that the message alerting park employees of the Central Park crime on the Parks Department's internal paging system did not go out until after 4:00pm - three hours after the media arrived.

East River Waterfront Esplanade. On Monday, police officers guarded the entrance to Pier 15. A 56-year-old woman fell approx. 20 feet from the top level of Pier 15 after she was pushed over the railing according to police.

On Monday, Metro NY asked Vickie Karp to confirm statements made by NYC Park Advocates regarding Park Enforcement Patrol Officers assigned to Pier 15. We reported that hours after the officers left a 56-year-old woman was raped and thrown off a second level of the Pier.

Ms. Karp refused to confirm any of the statements about the incident including information pertaining to the park employees and instead referred all questions to the NYPD.

Ms. Karp was asked 8 questions earlier today regarding these issues including whether or not she was acting under the orders of the Parks lawyer Alessandro Olivieri, the new parks commissioner Veronica White, or the Mayor's office in refusing to answer these public safety questions.

"You have many answers from us defining PEP and Urban Park Rangers. How is it you suddenly don't know this," Ms. Karp said in response to numerious questions and requests seeking comment.

Yesterday Public Advocate Bill de Blasio called for answers regarding the prior confrontation involving the victim and suspect in Wednesday’s Central Park sexual assault.

In a letter sent to the NYPD and Parks Department today, de Blasio questioned why no formal report was filed two weeks ago, what policies are in place to respond when allegations of criminal conduct are brought forward, and—in light of sustained budget cuts—whether there are sufficient resources to protect park-goers.

"I am concerned that the recent upticks in violent crime point to a larger problem of an under resourced security infrastructure in our parks. Since the mid-1990s, we have seen the headcount for Park Enforcement officers diminished considerably. We now have fewer than 100 Parks Enforcement officers across all five boroughs," Mr. de Blasio wrote.

Read More:

Rape Victim, 73, Says She Reported Earlier Confrontation With Suspect
New York Times - September 14, 2012 - By Wendy Ruderman and Nate Schweber

1 comment:

  1. This is very sad, troubling, and yet not surprising given the rottenness in the Parks Department, which is now primarily concerned with brokering public land for concession use. It also seems to echo the downgrading of felonies that has happened with the NYPD in the Bloomberg years. The Bloomberg years, with the attack on civil service in general orchestrated from City Hall, have seen the Park Budget continue to be cut, the number of PEP officers and other trained civil service Parks employees steeply decline, while the unskilled welfare workers have become ubiquitous. Meanwhile the concession money disappears into the City's coffers, where Bloomberg can dole it out to City Time et al, while cutting the Parks budget further. It's an environment toxic for worker morale, for the integrity of the actual parkland, and for the public's safety. The seeds of the problems at Parks go back many years, but under the Bloomberg administration they have fully flowered -- hence the open contempt for the law, for the public, and for the civil service mission that Parks should be fulfilling but abandoned long ago.