NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is calling on the NYPD to provide data on crime in parks, in order to help prevent another sexual assault.
De Blasio’s demand comes on the heels of a third high-profile sex assault in a city park, although de Blasio made reference to five assaults in a statement. The latest assault happened in Tompkins Square Park in the East Village this past Friday night.
“This fifth alleged sexual assault has us all questioning whether we have the right resources and the right strategy to prevent these crimes in our parks,” de Blasio said in a statement. “Ending this latest wave of attacks begins with getting real data on crime in our parks system – information we still don’t have on most parks – Tompkins Square Park included.”
Speaking to 1010 WINS, de Blasio said police policies fall short when it comes to reporting crime in city parks.
“When it comes to our parks, it’s kind of a dead zone in terms of police strategy,” de Blasio said. “We don’t have the information. We don’t collect the data. We don’t publish the data, and we don’t focus on where the need is greatest.”
He called on the NYPD and the Parks Department to “fix these blind spots immediately as a first step to preventing another attack.
De Blasio is also calling for the implementation of a crime in parks reporting bill, which was recently introduced by New York City Councilman Peter Vallone (22nd.) Vallone’s bill would require the NYPD to report on crime in all parks one acre or greater by January 2015.
In addition to Vallone’s bill, city officials have also called for Mayor Michael Bloomberg to repeal plans to cut the police budget, arguing more officers need to be stationed near city parks.
Canales’ alleged victim, a 31-year-old woman, told police she fell asleep on a park bench around 10 p.m. Friday and woke up to find someone trying to rape her. The woman told police she fought off her attacker, but he followed her until she walked into a nearby bodega.
Two other sexual assaults or attempted sexual assaults were also reported in city parks over the past month.
On Sept. 22, 25-year-old Jonathan Stewart was arrested for beating and choking a 21-year-old woman before dragging her into the bushes at Hudson River Park and raping her, the NYPD said.
A week before that alleged attack, David Albert Mitchell was indicted on several charges in connection with the rape of a 73-year-old birdwatcher in Central Park.