Police Remove Extra Patrols Placed in Forest Park After Sex Attack
QUEENS — Additional cops that had been assigned to patrol Forest Park after a woman was Tasered and raped there in August by a serial sex attacker who remains at large were removed last week, cops said.
There have been no reported sexual assaults in the park since the rape, which took place about six weeks ago, and police brass decided to pull the extra cops out, Deputy Inspector Henry Sautner, commanding officer of the 102nd Precinct, said at a Community Board 9 meeting Tuesday night.
The move comes as the Parks Department said it was planning to place an extra station for parks officers in the greenspace and activists and pols push for a mounted police unit there.
Following the August attack, which was the latest in a series of six sexual assaults in the park in the last two years — all linked to the same man — eight additional police cars, with two officers each, from various South Queens precincts patrolled the entrances to the park.
“Unfortunately, these kind of resources can’t be maintained on a regular basis,” Sautner said.
The suspect, who police say used a Taser during two attacks and also sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl in 2011, is still on the loose.
Sautner added that it does not mean that police are no longer patrolling the park.
A two-person unit, which was assigned to permanently monitor Forest Park starting in June, following an earlier attack in March, continues to patrol the 550-acre area 7 days a week, from approximately 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sautner also said he dispatches a number of the precinct’s auxiliary officers to patrol the park at least 2-3 times a week. “We have a pretty robust auxiliary program in the 102nd Precinct, with over 56 members,” Sautner said.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, who jogs in the park, said she has been also pushing for Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP) officers to be permanently assigned there. She said that parks officers are already patrolling the area more often than in the past.
“Prior to this year you would never see them in Forest Park,” she said Tuesday.
A spokesman for the Parks Department said in an email that this fall, the agency will be opening new PEP substations in Forest Park and in Rockaway, "allowing us to more easily patrol the parks of western and southern Queens."
The number of parks officers in Queens will be doubled to 36 by the end of the year — part of a citywide effort to boost manpower in the greenspaces, according to the Parks Department.
Patrols to Forest Park are currently dispatched from the Flushing Meadows Corona Park station, the agency said. Regardless of where they are stationed, they patrol various areas throughout the borough based on need.
Crowley is also pushing for bringing a mounted police unit to the park and for relocating the PEP Academy from Randall’s Island to Forest Park.
But the Parks Department said it would "not have the space to accommodate the PEP Academy in Forest Park."