Want PD Precinct In 'Most Dangerous Park' In Queens
Alarmed over crime statistics which show that Flushing Meadows- Corona Park had the second highest number of criminal incidents anywhere in the city last year, making it the most dangerous park in Queens, borough councilmembers have called for a police precinct to be established within the park's sprawling 1,255- plus acres.
Councilmember Hiram Monserrate, whose Corona district includes the huge parkland, was joined by eight other members of the borough's council delegation in making the request in a letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Monserrate (D- Corona) in the letter noted: "In 2006, there were 56 major felony complaints in the park. With a permanent safety facility in 2007, we hope to bring that number down to zero."
Borough President Helen Marshall, in her State of the Borough speech, delivered in early January, had proposed establishing the Police Academy in the park, saying the presence of large numbers of uniformed cadets would act as a crime deterrent.
Calling attention to the crime report covering 2006, Monserrate, a former cop, stated: "These numbers translate into real fear among Queens residents to use their largest, most popular park. We can no longer afford private safety resources only after the fact. We need a proactive plan that utilizes the basic tenet of crime reduction and prevention: police visibility.
"Simply put, a permanent, highly visible home for our NYPD officers and Park Enforcement Patrol (PEP) units can help deter crime altogether."
In January, Monserrate organized the Queens councilmembers whose districts surround the park to campaign for the precinct following a string of violent attacks at the end of last year. During a five-week period, he said, there were nine gruesome robberies in the park, including one that ended in a homicide and another with a victim beaten into a coma.
Those signing the letter to Mayor Bloomberg were Councilmembers Leroy Comrie (Jamaica), chair of the Queens delegation; Peter Vallone Jr. (Astoria), Public Safety Committee Chair; Tony Avella (Bayside), James Gennaro (Fresh Meadows), Melinda Katz (Forest Hills), John Liu (Flushing), Helen Sears (Jackson Heights) and David Weprin (Hollis), Finance Committee chairman. All are Democrats.
The lawmakers' letter pointed out that the crime report on parks, called "Park Stat", listed Flushing Meadows- Corona Park as the park with the second highest crime numbers in the city, topped only by Central Park in Manhattan.
The lawmakers asked the mayor to allocate funding for the proposed safety facility on a priority basis and locate it centrally in an easily accessed place. They recommended using the Central Park precinct as a model for Queens. Officers would be assigned around the clock, as they are in Central Park.
"For many in Queens," the letter to the mayor pointed out, "Flushing Meadows- Corona Park is their only green space. It is a beloved area that many think of fondly as their family's 'back yard'."
The recent attacks, the letter pointed out has "taken this away from them".
Looking ahead to warmer weather and increased park attendance, the letter continued, "We believe a commitment toward a permanent safety facility will reassure residents that their safety is our first priority."
The need for a permanent law enforcement facility in the park has long been recognized in the surrounding community. Letters of support for the lawmakers' proposal were included in the request to the mayor for action. The letters came from local cultural institutions that call Flushing Meadows- Corona Park home. They include the New York Hall of Science and Queens Theater in the Park, as well as Community Board 4.