From the Daily News:
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is an alluring destination for Queens residents seeking carefree summer fun.
But the lack of security officers patrolling the borough's largest park has some advocates and parkgoers worried, especially with the number of serious crimes reported there climbing in recent years.
The problem is more acute during the summer, advocates say, because Parks Enforcement Patrol officers must also cover the borough's beaches and pools.
But even during other times of the year, no PEP officers are assigned full-time to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, said Geoff Croft of NYC Park Advocates.
Croft and other community members said the lack of officers there leaves the 1,255-acre park vulnerable to crime.
Out of the Parks Department's 139 PEP officers in Queens, Croft said, only eight were available to patrol all of the borough's parks on any given day this June.
...Police Department figures show that felonies reported in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park have increased 88% in the last three years, from 16 in 2006 to 30 in 2008.
"It's worse than it was years ago," [Joseph Puleo, vice president of Local 983 of District Council 37] said about the crime and how much of it goes unreported.
Puleo, who regularly meets with union members, said workers have come across people in the park who are injured or who appear to have been in a scuffle and yet decline medical attention, or shy away from reporting a problem to authorities.
For example, "if there's gang violence, they don't want to provoke retaliation," said Puleo.
The growing population of undocumented immigrants in the community is also a contributing factor, he said. Crime victims fear drawing attention to themselves and risking deportation.
Having fewer PEP officers in such a huge space only worsens the situation, he said.
Cheryl Huber, director of research at New Yorkers for Parks, a group that monitors crimes in parks, said Flushing Meadows-Corona Park doesn't get as much attention because it doesn't have as many private organizations funding security measures. For example, the Central Park Conservancy foots the bill for additional patrols there.
"That's a civil rights issue," Croft said. "You have certain parks in wealthier neighborhoods that are able to buy city services."
Geoffrey Croft also wrote an Op-Ed on the subject.