Friday, August 30, 2013

69-Year-Old, Tasered & Raped In Forest Park

This suspect is wanted for allegedly tasering then raping a woman in Forest Park on August 26.
Police released a sketch of the suspect  wanted for allegedly tasering then raping a 69-year-old woman in Forest Park on August 26th while jogging.  In March, a 23-year-old woman was struck with a stun gun and then sexually assaulted in the park.


Police are looking for the man they say tasered and pushed a woman to the ground before raping her in Forest Park, according to the Queens Courier.

The attack happened around 4:30 p.m. on Monday, August 26 when the victim, a 69-year-old woman, while jogging through the park, was approached by the suspect.

The victim was taken to Queens Hospital Center, where she was treated and released.

Police describe the perpetrator as white, 30 to 40 years 0ld, 5 feet 9 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall, with light brown hair and clean shaven. He was wearing a black t-shirt and black sweat pants.

A $22,ooo reward has been offered for information in the case. The city of New York is offering $10,000, the NYPD is paying a $10,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest and conviction of the suspect, and Crime Stoppers is offering an additional $2,000 for an arrest and indictment.

The NYPD has increased patrols in and around the park as cops look for the alleged rapist.

In March, a 23-year-old woman was struck with a stun gun and then sexually assaulted in the park.
A person was arrested, but police later said they had the wrong man.

At the time, park security was increased following the incident and police presence was felt in the days after the attack.

Police are still investigating and could not confirm a connection between the two sexual assaults.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

Read/View More:

Queens Courier - August 30th, 2013

WNBC - August 31, 2013

DNAinfo - September 1, 2013 - By Jess Wisloski

A Walk In The Park - March 31, 2013 

Female Jogger Tasered, Sexually Attacked, & Robbed In Forest Park
A Walk In The Park -  March 30, 2013 - By Geoffrey Croft

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Parks Department To Remove Thousands Of Sandy-Damaged Trees In Southern Brooklyn

Damaged — and potentially deadly — littered Brooklyn after Superstorm Sandy. Now many trees that are still standing will be cut down before they can strike again.
Damaged — and potentially deadly — littered Brooklyn after Superstorm Sandy. Now many trees that are still standing will be cut down before they can strike again.   (Mark Lennihan/AP)  


The city will cut down 2,000 trees this fall in an attempt to stop the flora before it can kill or maim again.

The trees are the silent victims of Superstorm Sandy — so badly damaged by salt water inundation that they are likely to fall on residents during routine wind or rain, according to the New York Daily News. 

"It is a very sad time because these trees have been here for so long, but it is a necessity for safety," said Chuck Reichenthal, the venerable district manager for Community Board 13, which includes Coney Island, Sea Gate, and Bensonhurst, some of the worst hit in the borough.

"Everybody is hoping they make replacements because this is still Brooklyn, and this is where trees are grown.”  

Over 20,000 trees were destroyed in the hurricane last year, but brackish water from the storm surge infiltrated the southern Brooklyn soil, damaging root systems. 

The stand as sentinels, undead zombies that are still intact, but marred by brown leaves and thinning boughs.  

The city is hoping to avoid this kind of thing.
The city is hoping to avoid tree incidents like this.   (Photo: Marc A. Hermann/For New York Daily News)  

Many have dropped limbs and caused injuries and near-misses. 

A Coney Island resident, Martin Novitsky, suffered a concussion in July when he was struck by a falling tree branch while walking along the boardwalk. Novitsky survived but has since joined other tree advocates to push the city to fast track the cleanup post-Sandy.   

"Obviously it is very important to remove dead, decaying, or deceased trees for safety," said Geoffrey Croft, president of New York City Park Advocates, a watchdog group. "But the city really needs to increase the numbers of parks inspectors to prevent any such injuries from taking place." 

The Parks department began surveying 48,000 the decayed trees earlier this year. Another 4,500 will be re-inspected in the fall. 

The Parks Department said it has not yet determined a time frame for the removal of the trees. The agency promised to revisit the denuded areas this spring, during tree planting season.

"In the interim, we have been and will continue to remediate soil, as necessary, with compost and gypsum - both mitigate salt damage - to encourage the return of healthy biological functioning," said Meghan Lalor, a Parks Department spokeswoman.   

Read More:

New York Daily News - August 28, 2013 - By Tanay Warerkar  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Felony Crime In City Parks Jump 44 %

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
Felony Assault
Grand Larceny
Grand Total

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.

2Q 2009
2Q 2010
2Q 2011
2Q 2012
2Q 2013

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

Read More:

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

Friday, August 23, 2013

Clampdown On Rowdy Barbecuers In Riverside Park

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi
Parks Enforcement Patrol officers and the NYPD recently launched a crackdown on loud music and rowdy barbecues in Riverside Park. Here,  PEP officers patrol Riverside Dr. near W.150th St. Sunday.     (Photo: Andrew Savulich/New York Daily News)


Call them the party police. 

Cops and parks patrol officers have flooded an eight-block stretch in Riverside Park, going after the loud and messy barbecuers who have been invading the once-bucolic Hamilton Heights’ patch of green, according to the NY Daily News.  

The authorities launched the ongoing crackdown last weekend — silencing the thumping music and boozy revelry that’s been plaguing the treelined strip from W. 145th St. to W. 153rd St. 

Outrage from nearby residents — who have spent the summer griping about the perpetual noise — forced the Parks Department into action, said Parks spokesman Phil Abramson. 


But Hamilton Heights residents still aren’t satisfied; some say that officials need to do more. Now, they want parking in the park prohibited.

 “They come in their cars. Play their music, drink their beer and go home,” said Arnold Boatner, chairman of the Community Board 9 Parks Committee.

“The parking lot is the epicenter of this problem.”

Two lots — one on W. 148th St., and another on W. 150th St. — accommodate 84 cars just yards from prime seating along the edge of the Hudson River. No other green space in Manhattan has such bountiful free waterfront parking. 

Read More:

Cops launch clampdown on rowdy barbecuers in Riverside Park 
New York Daily News - August 20, 2013 - By Simone Weichselbaum 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

2 Shot & Killed In Fort Green Park

Police at the scene last nigth where two men were shot dead in Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn. Jahmal Issac Page, 21, and Anthony Earl-Govon, 22, were both shot in the the head and pronounced dead at the scene. The Daily News says a third man, whose name hasn't been released, was also reportedly shot. No arrests have been made yet. (Photo: Seth Gottfried)


Two men were fatally gunned down in Brooklyn last night, authorities said.

Jahmal Issac Page, 21, and Anthony Earl-Govon, 22, were both shot in the head and killed inside of Fort Greene Park at about 11:30 p.m., cops said.

The shooting happened near the basketball court in the vicinity of Myrtle Avenue and St. Edwards Street, according to police.

A weapon was recovered at the scene, though the motive is unknown.

Police said they were looking for a male who was seen fleeing towards DeKalb Avenue.

Read More:

Two men in their 20s shot dead in Brooklyn park
New York Post - August 10, 2013 - By Matt Mcnulty and Daniel Prenergast  

Brooklyn Man Injured By Falling Tree in Prospect Park To Sue City For $ 20 Mil.


By Geoffrey Croft

A Brooklyn man injured by a fallen tree limb in Prospect Park two weeks ago plans on suing the city for $20 million according to a Notice of Claim filed last week.

The Claim cites unspecified "severe and permanent personal injuries," including "emotional injuries" to Jermaine Shell "as a result of negligence. carelesness, recklessnss and gross negligence of the City and Parks Department. " 

The claim says Mr. Shell was "seriously injured when he was struck by a fallen tree" whose "resulting injuries were caused solely by the negligence of the City, the Parks Department which we negligent in its ownership, supervision, management, maintenance and control" of the tree.

It says the city was negligent and carless in its failure to properly,  adequately and/or timely inspect, and maintain the public park and tree.

The Parks Department and the Prospect Park Alliance are named as defendants. 

Mr. Shell's lawyers are also demanding the Parks Department  preserve all evidence pertaining go the incident including maintenance, Inspection and Repair records. 

A motion was also filed in state Supreme Court demanding  the City and Parks Department preserve the tree itself, its maintenance records, and all materials removed from the scene of the accident. 
On the morning of July 27 around 7:30 am Shell was walking with three dogs when the tree hit him. 

He was taken by ambulance to Kings County Hospital.

The filing comes after a series of tree-related injuries in city parks and NYCHA properties including the tragic death this week of a 30-year-old pregnant woman in Queens as a result of a deceased tree.

On August 5th, Yingyi Li-Dikov, 30, was tragically killed after a large oak fell on her in Kissena Park on Sunday night.  

Thirteen people have been injured over an eight week period.  

Mr. Shell's filing was first reported  by DNAinfo. 

Read More:

A Walk In The Park - July 30, 2013 - By Geoffrey Croft 

City Removes Destroyed Bench In Deadly Tree Incident That Killed 
Pregnant Yingyi Li-Dikov In Kissena Park
A Walk In The Park - August 9, 2013 - By Geoffrey Croft 

Rotted Tree Killed Pregnant Woman In Kissena Park
A Walk In The Park -  August 5, 2013 - By Geoffrey Croft 

Pregnant Woman Killed By Tree In Queens Park
A Walk In The Park - August 4, 2013 - By Geoffrey Croft 

City Loses Millions As Illegal Vendors Run Rampant In City Parks

Invisible  Babies. An illegal vendor (left) pours a Heineken into a plastic cup while the other two woman selling Corona beer await customers.  In Flushing Meadows-Corona Park (FMCP) women roam the 900 acre park selling alcohol from covered baby carriages, part of the park's vast network of illegal commerce that has been allowed to operate for years.  In FMCP there is not a single dedicated PEP officer for 900 acres despite a steady stream of unlicensed vendors in a park that also has one of the city's highest crime rates.      

"This has been going on for years," said a Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP) officer. "They (illegal vendors) know we have little man power and the agency doesn't care. Do you know how much the city loses throughout the city each year, millions." 

Legal vendors who are subject to city Health Department inspections and fees say the number of illegal vendors is growing and taking away their business.    

(Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) click on images to enlarge. 


By Geoffrey Croft

The city is losing millions of dollars in revenue annually from illegal vendors while the Bloomberg administration does little to combat the problem.

In Flushing Meadows Park it's a wild wild west, cat and mouse game as dozens of illegal vendors work openly in the 900 acre park.  Women pushing "invisible  babies" do brisk business selling alcohol from covered baby carriages, beer is hidden in sewers to avoid detection,  while others sell food, ice cream, drinks and snacks and toys.

In Ferry Point Park in the Bronx illegal vendors sell alcohol and food openly while men gamble on home made roulette tables under the cover of trees in the poorly maintained park.

<p>Men gamble on a roulette table under the cover of some trees at Ferry Point Park.</p>
Men gamble on a roulette table under the cover of trees at Ferry Point Park.

In Brighton Beach and Coney Island every few minutes men and woman push icee carts along the sand, while bootleggers hawk nutcrackers, a potent mix of hard liquor fruit juices, part of a vast underground but open net work of illegal vending on city park property. 
While at the same time some illegal vendors say the city doesn't provide adequate opportunities for new ones to vend legally in city parks. 

Licensed vendors say they can not compete. In Flushing Meadows Park alone ice cream truck concessionaires pay the Parks Department up to $ 32,000 annually in addition to Heath Department fees, liability Insurance, and in the case of Mr. Softee - a $ 3000 annual franchise fee,  on top of the  $  85,000 - $ 120,000 required to purchase the trucks.  

Mean while illegal vendors sell from make-shift home made push carts, baby carriages and bicycles that by-pass permits and insurance.  

Legal vendors also note that the Parks Department sets the prices they are allowed to charge while unlicensed ones are not under the same constraints.  Some legal ones have been forced to lower prices in order to try and compete.

Critics also point out that park patrons being allowed access to unlimited amounts of alcohal is a concern for getting behind wheel to drive home. 

Show Me The Money.  Jorje "Mario" Llubisaca, 41,  makes another illegal sale a few yards away from a licensed ice cream truck who is required to pay the Parks Department's Revenue Division $ 32,000 annually.   Law enforcement officials say they have confiscated up to four carts a day from Jorje who has operated brazenly in the open in Flushing Meadow's Corona Park for years and believe he may also be responsible for operating other illegal vendors in the park.   Sources say he keeps spare push-carts in a van parked in the park near the Queens Museum and has also used the alias, Manuel Angamarca.

 A steady stream of unlicensed vendors work the park.   Illegal vendors are a staple in many parks throughout the city. 

Illegal vendors take away revenue not only from owners but also from the workers who's salaries are often based on a percentage of what they sell.

Some vendors say they are under the constant threat of violence from illegal vendors while the city does little to protect them.   They say you are lucky if law enforcement occasionally conduct sweeps and confiscate illegal items but nothing is constant and certainly there is not a permanent uniform presence needed to deter this activity.   

Legal vendors say they constantly complain to the Parks Department's revenue division - who oversee the agency's vast array of concessionaires but their concerns fall on deaf ears.  They complain that the city refuses to protect them while being told there's nothing they can do because they don't have the resources to address the issues.

"Instead they laughingly tell us to take photos and call 311. What a joke," complained a long-time licensed vendor who has multiple park permits. 

"They say deal with it. We send photos,  it does nothing.  Revenue (division) knows the problems.  We've asked for more enforcement but they blow you off.  You complain and they tell you there's nothing they can do they don't have the resources.   

But if you don't have their check postmarked by the first of the month, they have no problem assessing late fees,  they have the resources for that," the vendor said. 

"They (illegal vendors) take a nice bite out of what the City should be getting."

According to the Parks Department the revenue division is responsible for collecting more than $ 110 million dollars from approximately 500 concessions currently operating in parks.   

The division is headed by long-time Michael Bloomberg family friend Assistant Commissioner Elizabeth "Betsy" Smith. 

The lack of professionalism and accountability within the revenue division has long been an issue with concessionaires.  The division has also been the subject of several Comptroller audits.  

"We call them the invisible babies," said another vendor of the woman pushing covered baby carriages selling items.

"We joke - your babies must be suffocating under those heavy towels." 

Erick Soto - displaying a Parks Department permit to vend - operates a Mister Softee truck near the Unisphere at Flushing Meadows Corona Park. He says brazen illegal vendors cut into his business and other businesses.  Soto said there is little enforcement to keep the vendors away. He's been threatened,  spat on and even menaced with a knife by aggressive vendors peddling food from baby carriages and shopping carts.  

"My wife doesn't want me working here anymore," said Mr. Soto.  "She's afraid I won't come home one day." 

Erick Soto operates a Mister Softee truck near the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Corona Park and says he's been threatened,  spat on and even menaced with a knife by an aggressive vendor peddling food from baby carriage near his truck.  He says brazen illegal vendors cut into his business and other businesses.  

"We are all suffering," Mr. Soto said, pointing out that there is little enforcement to keep the vendors, who pay no fees and avoid health inspections, away. 

"I don't know if I'll be back next year," he said.  "My wife doesn't want me working here anymore. She's afraid I won't come home one day." 

There is not a single dedicated Park Enforcement Patrol (PEP) officer permanently assigned to patrol 900 acres of FMCP, the largest park in Queens.  

This week as few as three PEP officers were available to patrol the entire borough of Queens. 

"We used to have 24 hour coverage and vendor details but under Bloomberg and Benepe they tried to dismantle enforcement,"  said Local 983 president Joe Puleo who represents PEP officers.

"It's totally out of control. We don't have the resources needed to deal with quality-of-life issues much less serious crime," he said.  

Two years ago concessionaires in FMCP said they received letters from the revenue division instructing them to suspend vending during the US. Open.

"It was outrageous, we have permits and they had the nerve to suspend working during the Open so they can make more money. Are you kidding," one vendor in the park commented. 

 "We did not comply.

 It's amazing they get away with this, there is no accountability "  

An unlicensed vendor makes another sale while the Ice cream truck in the background is required to pay the Parks Department's Revenue Division $ 32,000 annually for the right to sell in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Despite numerous complaints to the revenue division the agency refuses to protect the legal vendors from unlicensed ones who take away business and potential put the public's health at risk by allowing the sale of food without Health Department inspections or permits.   The legal vendors say they also fear for their lives after being threatened with violence.     

The revenue division is headed by by long-time Michael Bloomberg family friend Assistant Commissioner Elizabeth "Betsy" Smith.  

Sewage Drainage.  One of the many locations where Illegal vendors selling alcohol stash product as part of the cat-and-mouse game in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.  The black bag was filled with ice when PEP officers pulled numerous beers from there last week.  

Jorje  Llubisaca passes two other illegal vendors selling mangos from baby carriages - part of the park's vast network of illegal vendors operating openly in the park. 

Beer bottle caps litter tree roots in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, a common site in many parks.

NYPD in Central Park issuing a summons to an illegal vendor. Legal vendors say the selling of products by unlicenced ones is often overlooked by law enforcement. 

A vendor makes his way from Brighten to Coney Island Beach.

Vendors sell openly on the Coney island boardwalk and on the beach.

Three vendors within an ear shot work the beach. 

Coney Island. 

<p>Officers confiscated a cooler filled with beer.</p>

A confiscated cooler filled with beer from Ferry Point Park.  

(Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) click on images to enlarge. 

Read More:

New York Daily News - August 9, 2013 -  By Maya Guimaraes and Lisa L. Colangelo