MIDTOWN — Violent crime was up 23 percent in city parks during the nine-month period ending this March, even as the city saw major crime drop overall, according to advocacy group NYC Park Advocates.
There were 417 violent crimes including homicides, rapes, assaults and robberies inside parks between July 1, 2015 and March 31, 2016, compared with 340 during the same period starting in 2014, the study found.
The figures exclude Central Park, which has its own precinct.
“The De Blasio administration has repeatedly sought to downplay crime in parks,” wrote Park Advocates founder Geoffrey Croft.
“For years park safety advocates have called on the city to dramatically increase the number of park police but they have refused.”
The increase comes while violent crime continues to decline citywide, according to police.
Major crime was down about one percent this year in all five boroughs, according to NYPD statistics. However, murders and rapes were up slightly in July.
The study was only made possible because the NYPD initiated a new policy identifying and publicly releasing major crimes that took place within the city's 1,155 park properties, Croft added. The public release of the data began in 2014.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office said Monday that violent crime “is at an all-time low” and crime in parks is rare.
“Just like they do on the streets, NYPD is focusing resources on trouble spots using a model of precision policing that has made our city the safest big city in America,” the mayor’s office said in a statement.
The office added that the first three months of 2016 had the second-lowest quarter of crime since police started documenting parks in 2014.
The NYPD said that crime in city parks was "less than 1% of all reported crime in New York City" during the nine-month period.
"City parks represent 14% of New York City land mass, which makes them one of the safest places in the city and the country," the department said in a statement. "Crime in New York City is on pace for a new record low and New York remains the safest big city in America."