Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Park Enforcement Put At Risk Officers Charge


Park cops say new orders to sweep homeless people out of the city's parks are putting them in danger because they are being sent out without adequate manpower, training, weapons and backup.

"This is a good example of why understaffing can become dangerous," said Joe Puleo, vice president of Local 983, the union that represents the city's Parks Enforcement Patrol officers.

"They have no guns and often encounter dangerous situations and are simply not given enough manpower and backup," he said.

The union claims the Parks Department started new nightly homeless sweeps in the BronxBrooklyn and Queens on Sunday, trying to dislodge vagrants encamped in the city's small pockets of wilderness.

Parks officials denied that any new sweeps have been ordered.

The ranks of the park police, who make $35,000 per year, have been sorely diminished by hiring freezes and attrition.

Geoffrey Croft of New York City Park Advocates says the force is down to 152 officers from 212 last year - and a high of 450 in the 1990s.

"Putting public employees in harm's way is not good for the city," he said.

The sparser numbers mean the parks officers will have to try to clear out sprawling parks, such as Van Cortlandt Park, in the Bronx, and Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, in Queens, in teams of just two or three, instead of five like last year, Puleo said.

"Our belief is that two officers is not enough to handle these types of situations," he said, adding that his officers need help from the NYPD.

"Some of the homeless conditions we have encountered on our patrol are seriously mentally ill and combative and emotionally disturbed people."

Read More:

New homeless sweeps put us at risk, park cops say
New York Daily News - September 27, 2010-  By Daniel Beekman 

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