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Crime up in New York City parks

January 30, 2012 2:13:16 PM PST
An increase in crime New York City parks has city officials looking into what's behind it.

They want to know if anything can be done to make the parks safer.

"You come to the park and you just want to enjoy yourself," said Ron Loposky, a city resident.

For Ron Loposky and his 4-year-old son, that was the order of the day but safety is something he admits he takes for granted, and that could be a big mistake.

According to the NYPD, which looked at 31 of the city's largest parks, there was a nearly 25% increase in major felonies from 2009 to 2010.

It's not surprising to some in Central Park.

"Not at all given the economy and the level of desperation that I think people are probably feeling," said one parkgoer.

It was the subject of this oversight hearing, entitled: "A Walk in the Park, or is it?"

"The problems we have are there are less police, less park enforcement patrol, on Queens there's just eight at any given day, eight for the entire borough, that's absurd," said City Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr., (D) Queens.

Eight park enforcement patrol officers, who work with police and Monday, listened as officials laid out the numbers.

In Central Park, officers reported 65 incidents, the following year 98, in Flushing Meadows, robberies jumped from two to 10, in Prospect Park, major felonies went up from four to seven, in Riverside Park, assaults leaped from one to nine and in Crotona Park, these types of crimes increased from seven to 36.

Officials say avoiding these green spaces would be the wrong move.

"One of the things that makes parks safe is when people use them for purposes for which they are intended, and as we've seen over the last three years, user ship of parks has increased because people do feel safe and comfortable in their parks," said Deputy Parks Commissioner Liam Kavanagh, Department of Parks and Recreation.

Critics maintain these numbers do not accurately reflect what is going on in our parks, even going as far as saying there is an unwillingness on the part of police to hand over crime statistics.

"It's kind of like pulling teeth right now to get this information at this hearing. We are trying to find out what is delaying the NYPD from implementing to the full extent the law that was passed six years ago," said Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, (D) Manhattan.

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