Crime in New York City's largest parks rose 7% in 2012 compared with the previous year, a trend elected officials and advocates call troubling as they urge Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration to beef up security.
There were 354 major felonies in 31 of the city's largest parks last year, compared with 331 felonies in 2011, according to statistics compiled by the New York Police Department. Major felony crimes citywide increased more than 4% in 2012 compared with the previous year, breaking a 20-plus-year trend of year-over-year crime decreases.
The crime rate in these 31 parks hit its highest level in five years, the NYPD statistics show.
Council Member Peter Vallone, chairman of the council's Committee on Public Safety, described the crime increase as "alarming."
"It's very significant in that once crime starts increasing, it's much more difficult to get it back under control—it's like turning an ocean liner," Mr. Vallone said. "This ocean liner is picking up speed in the wrong direction."
John McCarthy, a spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg, said crime in the city's largest parks "continues to average fewer than one per day," and he said the year-over-year increase could be attributed to "three heavily used parks—Prospect, Crotona and Randall's....while all the other parks combined saw a decline in crime last year."