Thursday, November 09, 2006

Parks crime statistics

The off-leash lunatic fringe constantly repeats a couple of bits of "information". They never back-up their claims with any authentic statistical data or correlations. I suppose that they're hoping if it's regurgitated enough times, that it will be accepted as real facts. I wish that the local media outlets would actually research their claims rather than merely parroting the same, tired fiction.

Take, for example, the claim that ever since dogs have been allowed to run unleashed, crime in the parks has been reduced. Conveniently, this assertion can neither be proved nor disproved. The reason is that data on crimes committed in city parks has only been collected for Central Park. As proof of that, below are excerpts from the New York City Committee on Public Safety, int. no. 470, February 3, 2005:


Introduction No. 470 requires the Police Department to submit to the Council reports of crime in areas under the jurisdiction of the Department of Parks and Recreation. The legislative findings and intent indicate that information on crime in parks and other public spaces is not effectively gathered and disseminated. Of the approximately 27,000 acres of park and open space, covered by different precincts, crime statistics are not calculated to reflect crimes in those specific public spaces, making it difficult to identify problem areas."

The enacted amendment begins:

"Be it enacted by the Council as follows:

Section 1. Declaration of legislative findings and intent. The Council finds that information about crimes in parks is not effectively gathered and analyzed by the Police Department nor the Department of Parks and Recreation, and such knowledge is a powerful tool in making the parks and open space of the City safe for everyone. Information on crime statistics in parks should be specifically analyzed by the Police, and reported to the Council. Since only the 843 acres of Central Park has a dedicated precinct, that is the only park in which crime statistics are reported to the Council. The other approximately 27,000 acres of park and open space is covered by separate precincts, and the crime statistics are not calculated to reflect crimes in those public spaces. In addition, many parks are covered by a number of precincts and commands, which separates the information into different areas, not reflecting the actual statistics for a specific park. For instance, Forest Park borders and is in the 104, 102, 112, and 75 precincts, in 3 different patrol boroughs (Queens North, Queens South and Brooklyn North); Flushing Meadows Park is covered by the 110, 107 and 112 precincts; Prospect Park borders and is covered by the 70, 71, 77 and 78 precincts; Riverside Park is covered by the 20, 24 and 26 precincts; Bronx Park is covered by the 49 and 52 precincts; and Van Cortland Park is covered by the 47 and 50 precincts."

Both past Commissioner Henry Stern and Prospect Park Alliance President Tupper Thomas claimed that they created the off-leash "courtesy hours" based on the effect that unleashed dogs had on crime in the parks. Since it is impossible to have access to any park crime statistics I can only assume that they fabricated that argument to justify their policy.