NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — This year will go down as one of the most peaceful years in Central Park, but are New Yorkers ignoring the threat of danger after dark?
The NYPD says crime rates continue to fall — prompting people to stay well past sunset.
It’s a sight, many couldn’t even imagine before — late night dog walking, jogging in the dark and women and children alone after sundown, in Central Park.
“By ourselves, we haven’t had any trouble. We haven’t really felt scared,” Joanne Petrovic told CBS 2’s Derrick Dennis.
Times have certainly changed. Who could forget the 1989 rape of the so-called Central Park jogger?
That crime and years of muggings, assaults, etc. made Central Park too dangerous at night.
“There was a time when you could not set a foot the minute it was dark,” said Dominique Milbank. “It’s wonderful.”
The NYPD backed up that feeling of increased safety with real numbers — 17 robberies this year, compared to 37 in 2001 and 731 in 1981.
Murders and rapes are almost unheard of now.
“The most prevalent form of crime in the park, is unattended property that gets taken,” said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.
Benepe credits increased police patrols, but overall, he says there’s just safety in numbers.
“People go where other people are, and if the park is clean, if it’s attractive, there’s great attractions, if it’s beautiful and it feels safe, people will go there,” he said.
And the late night presence shows it — on the roadways, on the trails. even so called blind spots are now just steps away from activity.
“I think there’s more people into running, fitness, more alert. There tends to be more people out,” Yvette Mejia said.
“It’s still New York, and people should be sensible about things, but I think they can take great confidence in the fact that Central Park, and all parks are much safer than they were 10, 20, 30 years ago,” Benepe said.
There is a 1 a.m. curfew in the park and police are urging people to stay in groups or at least in lit areas a night. The new crime numbers are encouraging, but officials say don’t let your guard down.
Do you feel safe in Central Park at night? Share your thoughts in the comments section…