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Long-Delayed Cameras Installed Around Forest Park 3 Years After Sex Attacks

 A crew installing an NYPD security camera at the corner of Park Lane South and Woodhaven Boulevard near Forest Park.
A crew installing an NYPD security camera at the corner of Park Lane South and Woodhaven Boulevard near Forest Park.
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Courtesy of Alexander Blenkinsopp

QUEENS — After numerous delays owing to red tape in Albany, NYPD security cameras have finally been installed around Forest Park, nearly three years after the last assault in a string of sexual attacks that terrified parkgoers.

In total, 14 cameras were placed in seven locations around the 500-acre park last week, including at the entrances to the park, near main trails used by bicyclists and joggers, and close to playgrounds, officials said.

The equipment was installed after Assemblyman Mike Miller and State Sen. Joseph Addabbo allocated $250,000 for the cameras to be placed in the park back in 2013.

Officials said they hope the cameras will serve as a deterrent to crime and that they will also help identify suspects in the future.

"Today the park and surrounding areas will be safer because of these security cameras," Miller said in an email Monday. 

"There were a few attempted rapes within Forest Park which led to conversations with the Parks Commissioner and The New York Police Department about how to improve the safety of the park." 

Problem-plagued Forest Park has been the site of numerous crimes in recent years. 

The spate of six sex assaults between March 2011 and August 2013 linked to one suspect — including two in which the man used a stun gun and one where he also allegedly sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl — frightened local joggers and prompted the 102nd Precinct to assign a special patrol to monitor the vast greenspace

That suspect still has not been caught, police said.

Last summer, a man was beaten to death in the park, and there have also been several robberies and multiple car break-ins near Freedom Drive and Myrtle Avenue

Initially, elected officials had hoped to have the cameras placed in the park sometime in 2014, but the process took much longer than expected.

Part of the delay was that the NYPD had to file two separate applications — one for the state legislature and the second for the State Dormitory Authority, according to Miller's office. The request also had to be approved by the state Assembly's Ways and Means Committee. 

But last week, the cameras were finally installed at seven locations, including at the intersection of Woodhaven Boulevard and Park Lane South, near the Buddy Monument at Myrtle Avenue and Park Lane South, at the corner of Forest Parkway and Park Lane South, at Myrtle Avenue and 80th Street near Dry Harbor Playground, at the intersection of Myrtle Avenue and Freedom Drive, as well as near the Forest Park Carousel and Victory Field, according to Miller's office.

"From Dry Harbor Playground to the Buddy Monument these cameras were strategically installed," Miller said. "Local residents can rest easy knowing there is an eye in the sky."

Each location will include two 360-degree, fish-eye cameras that will retain the recordings and stream the images to police, officials said.

Local residents and parkgoers said they were thrilled that the cameras have finally been installed.

“Forest Park is a 538-acre jewel, but its size complicates the task of keeping the park safe,” said Alexander Blenkinsopp, a Woodhaven resident and director of communications for the Woodhaven Residents' Block Association.

“By monitoring key spots in and around the park, these cameras are expected to help make it much safer.”