The City Council’s Public Safety Committee, chaired by Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), held a hearing on the councilman’s proposed law that would require the Police Department to submit reports of crime in all parks and playgrounds that are greater than one acre in size to the Council.
As it stands, the NYPD only discloses crime data from the city’s 31 largest parks.
Vallone believes that his amendment, which will reduce the loophole, will ensure that all parks and playgrounds greater than one acre receive the appropriate attention and be subhect to the same reports.
“We can no longer allow the NYPD to hide behind a claimed lack of technology to avoid providing the public with this vital information. This bill will improve upon my original bill and increase the amount of parks covered from 31 to over 870, and publish this information on the web,” he said. “In addition we are looking for ways to include playgrounds and other areas smaller than an acre, but larger than a patch of grass.”
According to a report for July through September, crime has risen from 149 incidents over the same time last year to 162 — officers suggest that this is a return to normalcy after a sharp decline in crime in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
“Reporting crimes in all parks over one acre is in everyone’s best interest,” said Alyson Beha, director of research, planning and policy at New Yorkers for Parks. “It will help New Yorkers better understand the reality of perceived concerns about safety in parks, both generally and specifically, and could lead to a more informed and efficient distribution of police resources.”
Though many have praised Vallone for his proposal, there are those who feel differently.
In an email sent out by New York City Park Advocates, several people were quoted on their disapproval of the amendment.
“It is imperative that the city track crime in all parks and playgrounds not just on properties of one acre or greater,” state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) said in a statement to the group.
Joe Puelo, president of Local 983, which represents Park Enforcement Patrol officers, was also opposed to the idea.
“Mr. Vallone’s ‘What happens in parks stays in parks’ legislation continues to put the lives of the public and our officers in jeopardy by not requiring the city track crimes in park properties including all parks and playgrounds, and recreation centers,” said Joe Puleo, president of Local 983, which represents Park Enforcement Patrol officers.
“We cannot support this legislation as written,” Puelo said. “We have tried to bring the bill’s problems to your attention but our concerns have been ignored. We fully support State Senator Tony Alleva’s park crime reporting legislation that actually closes the loopholes and provides an important level of account.”