Dwindling County Police Force Prompts Security Concerns In Westchester Parks

WHITE PLAINS (CBSNewYork) — There has been concern in Westchester county, over whether safety in parks is being squeezed by tight budgets.

With few officers, police don’t regularly patrol the parks during the winter months.

CBS2’s Erin Logan met Eileen Francis in Saxon Woods Park.

“I’m here often with the baby,” she said.

Francis said she’s feels safe in the park, but not all day.

“I think it’s pretty safe up until four o’clock,” she said.

It’s at that time of day when she feels police are needed at Westchester County parks. However, because the parks aren’t used as much this time of year, there are no county police patrols in the fall or winter.

County Executive Rob Astorino said it’s a challenge, especially with a tight budget and 50 parks with over 18,000 acres of land to cover.

“We have to balance that out with what our needs are, and what the taxpayers can afford. We also have local police who will utilize parks and patrol them at that time as well,” he said.

Right now, the department is down twelve officers from 292. It’s soon to be down fifteen because of retirements.

“The police commissioner is going to deploy people where he thinks it’s necessary,” Astorino said.

Back in November, a jogger was attacked at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation. A mother of four said it wouldn’t stop her from coming.

“We have only been here a half hour during the winter. Just something to get their energy out,’ Kathleen Trinidad said.

Trinidad cut her trip to the park short on Friday, not because of a lack of cops, but because of emptiness.

“I saw one man just walking around so that was a little uneasy,” she said.

She said she understands that police can’t be everywhere, especially when the department is down 15 officers.

“We will be bringing them in from other departments when they resign and reinstate,” Astorino added.

He later went on to say that they would be hired throughout the year.

 

 

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