Sunday, March 13, 2011

Park Enforcement Officers Say They Need More Personnel

Crotona Park - Bronx. On Thursday there were only 2 Park Enforcement Patrol officers (PEP) officers available for patrol per shift for nearly 7, 000 acres of park land. This deployment number stands in sharp contrast to so called "contract parks" which pay for dedicated PEP assigned permanently to work in one park. The officer driving the car above was partnered with a JTP who is not a peace officer.

PEP officers are often confronted with dangerous and unpredictable situations while performing their duties yet Deputy Parks Commissioner Liam Kavanagh said in a bizarre statement to NY 1 News that, "PEP officers should not put themselves in a position where there personal safety is jeopardized." (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates.) Click on Image to enlarge


Park Enforcement Patrol officers say budget cuts are affecting their ability to do their jobs. NY1’s Dean Meminger filed the following report.

According to Park Enforcement Patrol (PEP) officers, the small number of them in most parts of the city makes it impossible to stay on top of quality of life issues and more serious crime.

"The whole force for the Bronx, the total number they have, and that includes our mounted patrol, is eight,” said Joe Puleo of the Parks Enforcement Officers Union.

There are about 176 PEP officers, who do not carry guns, across the city. More than half are in Manhattan. The Bronx, with the most city park land, has the fewest park officers.

The Parks Department has been using people on public assistance in a jobs training program to help out. But one PEP officer, who did not want to be identified, says the trainees are not certified for security work.

"If we have an arrest, if a person cannot help you cuff a person or restrain an individual or use a baton or use a radio to call using the various codes that you use, you are in trouble,” said the officer.

The union says it is filing a grievance with the city because the Parks Department has temporary trainees riding in patrol vehicles with officers.

"I have been told they have been requesting all of the boroughs to do so,” said Puleo.

The Parks Department says job training participants are a uniformed presence that carry portable radios and act as eyes and ears for officers, but stresses the New York City Police Department is the principal anti-crime force for the parks.

"We have fewer staff than we did last year at this time. But we are still out there doing our jobs,” said Deputy Parks Commissioner Liam Kavanagh. “Again, PEP officers should not put themselves in a position where there personal safety is jeopardized."

Last month an officer ended up in the hospital.

"When the PEP officer confronted this individual he became irate and punched and kicked her,” said the union representative.

There are also concerns privately funded facilities like Battery Park City and Hudson River Park have more officers, because they can pay for them.

A PEP officer on the High Line. Public-Private partnerships in wealthy communities have created enormous disparities in the city's park system. The Park Enforcement ranks have been decimated over the years. The current city budget allocates funds for only 152 officers - down from 212 last year year - and from a high of 450 in the 1990s. This policy means that some boroughs like the Bronx can have as little as one or two officers per shift to patrol nearly 7,000 of acres of parkland.

“We may be seeing a disparity in the way some parks are treated over others,” said City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito. “And that is not something we should not tolerate in this city.”

The councilwoman says she may hold hearings on these concerns.

Read More:

Park Enforcement Officers Say They Need More Numbers
NY 1 - March 11, 2011 - By Dean Meminger

A Walk In The Park - March 8, 2011

A Walk In The Park - September 30, 2010 - By Geoffrey Croft

A Walk In The Park - September 28, 2010

A Walk In The Park - March 18, 2010

New York Daily News - September 2, 2009 - By Geoffrey Croft

New York Daily News - June 10, 2009 - By Joy Resmovits, Kenny Porpora and Erin Einhorn

New York Daily News - October 4, 2008 - By Lisa L. CoLangelo


  1. It is disturbing to hear a Commissioner state that officers should not put themselves at risk, Wake up, they put themselves at risk every time they respond to a call, issue a summonse, make an Arrest, they do everything the NYPD does inside of Parks Property.

  2. Why can't we just merge Parks enforcement with the NYPD? Why do they need their own security force?