Police work the crime scene in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park where a 19-year-old hispanic woman was beaten on May 31st. Flushing Meadows-Corona Park (above) and Central Park account for half of all park crimes from April to June. The City's largest parks saw a 44 % increase in felony crime over the same period last year. There were 128 felonies from April to June compared to 89 last year. (Photo: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates.
Serious felonies rose in New York City's largest parks during the spring months this year, increasing 44% for April 1 to June 30 compared with the same period in 2012, according to a New York Police Department report, according to the Wall Street Journal.
There were 128 felonies in the city's 31 biggest parks from April 1 to June 30, compared with 89 in the same period last year, according to an NYPD Compstat report.
The increase comes on the heels of a park-crime spike of 7% in 2012, compared with 2011—the biggest year-over-year jump in half a decade, NYPD statistics show.
The report didn't include historical data for crime in parks. Crime in Central Park has reached historical lows in recent years, according to NYPD data for the park's precinct. Major crimes fell nearly 73% from 1990 to 2012 in Central Park, according to the NYPD, and robberies went down more than 90%, from 152 in 1990 to 15 in 2012.
But in response to the recent increase in crime, City Council Member Peter Vallone, the chairman of the council's Public Safety Committee, said the city should boost the number of uniformed NYPD officers and Parks Enforcement Patrol Officers.
"This is the biggest jump I've seen, but it's not surprising the way the city has allowed PEPO officers to [retire] and not replaced them," Mr. Vallone said.
A parks enforcement officer's maximum annual salary is under $38,000-a-year, causing a large amount of attrition as officers seek better paying jobs, said Geoffrey Croft, president of the New York City Park Advocates.
A spokesman for the New York City Parks Department referred calls to the NYPD. An NYPD spokeswoman said, "Crime in parks is consistently low year after year and accounts for a very small percent of overall crime in the city."
The police report compiled statistics for 31 of the city's roughly 5,000 parks.
"So this is only the tip of the iceberg," Mr. Croft said. "You need a uniformed presence in the parks to control quality of life crimes."
Mr. Vallone agreed. "The small crimes become big crimes without that," Mr. Vallone said.
Mr. Vallone and other council members have complained about the lack of PEP officers, saying the number had dropped below 80 in recent years.
The city has hired 80 new officers this year, but Mr. Croft said that still doesn't meet the numbers needed to keep park-goers safe.
"The city is saying its parks are open for business," Mr. Croft said. "But it's not ensuring that visitors are safe."
A Bronx man was found fatally stabbed to death in Van Cortlandt Park on June 27, the one reported homicide in the city's biggest parks in the spring.
Central Park saw the most serious felonies in the spring with 37 reported crimes—including a rape, two robberies and five felony assaults.
Flushing Meadows Park in Queens had the second-highest number of serious crimes with 27, including two reported robberies and two felony assaults, according to the report.
In 2012, there were 354 major felonies in the city's largest 31 parks, up from 331 in 2011.
· In the second quarter of 2013 there were a total of 128 incidents of crime, which is almost quadrupled from the 1st Quarter of 2013 which saw 34 incidents. When we compare the data with the same period as last year, we see also see a spike (128 incidents of crime in 2nd Q 2013 versus 89 in 2nd Q 2012).
· Two parks were responsible for 50% of the crime this quarter. Flushing Meadows recorded 27 incidents in the 2nd Quarter of 2013 and Central Park recorded 37 incidents.
o Flushing Meadows: 22 grand larceny incidents, 2 felony assault incidents, 2 robbery incidents, and 1 grand larceny auto incident.
o Central Park: 26 grand larceny incidents, 5 burglary incidents, 3 felony assault incidents, 2 robbery incidents, and 1 rape.
Breakdown by type of crime:
1st Quarter 2013Crime
In the 2nd Quarter of 2013, grand larceny and robbery are the two types of crimes with the highest number of incidents. The same trend was true in the 1st Quarter of 2013 grand larceny and robbery were also the two types of crimes with the highest number of incidents.
A look at 2nd Quarter 2013 and other second quarters:
Here is an overview of what the crime was like in the second quarter of previous years.
First six months of 2013 vs. first six months in 2012
January – June 2012
January – June 2013
Crime increased by 26.5% from January – June 2012 to January –June 2013. Grand larceny incidents contributed to this spike in crime – there were 72 incidents in January – June 2012 and 100 incidents in January – June 2013.
*NYPD Comstat/CM Peter Vallone via NYC Park Advocates
City Parks See Rise in Felonies
The Wall Street Journal - August 28, 2013 - By Timothy O'Connor
Mean green! Crime jump in city parks
New York Daily News - August 29, 2013, By Tina Moore and Lisa L. Colangelo