One of the Big Apple’s most popular and crime-ridden parks is routinely being left unguarded.
The city has significantly slashed the number of parks enforcement patrol officers assigned to Flushing Meadows Corona Park over the past few months – a move that left Queens’ largest park without on-duty security during large chunks of at least a dozen days the past month – including Wednesday and Thursday, some officers and their union told The Post.
“It’s shocking they won’t prioritize a park this big,” said Joe Puleo, president of Local 983 of District Council 37. “It puts everyone in danger – both the public and our members who lack the resources to enforce the law.”
Flushing Meadows has a longstanding reputation of attracting wild gatherings after 9 pm, when the park closes and the public is supposed to leave. Sometimes thousands gather near Meadow Lake, Fountain of the Planets, the officers and union said.
Some get high off booze and drugs, rev muscle cars, blast music, and urinate on the grass, they added.
In the fiscal year ending June 30, there were 35 reported crimes at Flushing Meadows, the most of any park in the borough and third to only Manhattan’s Central Park and Washington Square Park citywide, records show.
Puleo said Flushing Meadows is also a magnet for many unreported crimes, especially where the victims are undocumented immigrants.
The Police Department rarely patrols the park and typically takes about 20 minutes to respond to calls the unarmed peace officers make for assistance, he said.
Since September, two to four park officers have been assigned per shift to monitor the entire 898-acre park, down from an average of six to eight previously, some officers and Puleo said.
A Parks Department spokesperson insisted Flushing Meadows is properly being guarded, adding it currently has 18 officers assigned over two shifts.
However, Puleo said the department over the past three months has routinely reassigned most of these officers to Rufus King Park in Jamaica.
On many days, Rufus King – which is slated for millions of dollars in upgrades and borders a bustling, up-and-coming neighborhood – has seen more than double the security of Flushing Meadows, despite only being 11.5 acres, he added.
The Parks Department insisted Rufus King isn’t getting special treatment.