Police officials said last Wednesday they want to install more lighting, mount security cameras, institute new rules and beef up patrols inside the Parade Grounds after three brutal murders rocked the park during the last year — but park neighbors say they’ve been seeking those improvements for months and haven’t gotten a thing.
“It remains to be seen whether [these] requests will become reality,” said Ben Waltzer. “A lot of things have been promised in the past.”
Waltzer and other Parade Grounds neighbors say they’ve been pushing the city to make improvements to the park for months, and most recently posted an online petition to spread the word about problems in the park and what they think could be done to make it safer.
“While the recent crimes at the Parade Grounds may not be linked, it has become abundantly clear that criminals see the Parade Grounds as a place where murder and assault can be committed,” the petition read.
But the 70th Precinct’s top cop says that he is on the case.
“If people get killed in this precinct and people get robbed, I take it personally,” said Deputy Inspector Ralph Monteforte at a meeting of the 70th Precinct’s Community Council last Wednesday night.
Monteforte said that he will beef-up patrols in the area, and that he was working with the Parks Department to ensure bathrooms are locked after dusk — when the park is normally closed — and that lightsare added to the roof of the bathrooms at the eastern edge of the grounds where a 23-year-old was gunned down last week. He said Parks also plans to remove the bollards blocking motorway entrances so police cruisers can easily enter the park.
Last week’s murder followed two others — last April’s machete mauling of a gang member and June’s robbery and shooting of a livery driver — and that doesn’t sit well with Monteforte.
Monteforte said he’s also requested the city install a security camera across the street from the park, located at Crooke Avenue and Parade Place.
“It’s an area of concern for us,” said 70th Precinct Commander Ralph Monteforte.“Violence has picked up, especially in this desolate area of the park.”
Of the nearly 2,000 major crimes committed in the 70th precinct last year, 18 took place in the Parade Grounds.