Koo announced that after speaking with police officers, parks officials and community members, his office will fund three full-time security guards to patrol the two Flushing parks. They will begin in September.
“Our parks need more enforcement, the Parks Department patrols are spread very thin,” Koo said. “Today, we are attempting to fill the gap.”
The security guards will coordinate with Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP) officers and can dispatch police officers if they see criminal activity. Parks officials said the guards will patrol in pairs, and act as “eyes and ears” on the ground.
Koo said the full-time presence at the parks is critical.
“At the end of the day, it comes down to a permanent presence to act as a deterrent to criminal activity,” he said. “They can enforce park rules and contact law enforcement when they observe criminal activity.”
According to NYPD crime statistics, Kissena Corridor Park has seen a 700 percent increase in crime during the second quarter of 2017 compared to last year. Last month, police arrested a man for sexually assaulting two women in the park.
Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski said Kissena Park, at 237 acres, and Kissena Corridor Park, at 100 acres, are both large spaces that are heavily used by community members.
“In general, our parks are safe and secure,” Lewandowski said. “But that said, there’s always a need for quality of life enforcement and safety.”
The security guards will be funded through the Parks Equity Initiative. They will work five days a week until the park closes.
Dorothy Woo from the Kissena Corridor Park Conservancy said with the neighborhood’s increased population, many more residents are using the parks.
“They use the open space in the park for group dancing and enjoyment,” she said. “This park is not just for daytime use, it’s also extended into the evening.”