|By Liz Goff
It is a haven for harried city dwellers 1,125 gentle green acres sliced out
of the center of Queens bustling business and residential communities.
Police from the 110th Precinct, Flushing meadow Park Detail
and city paramedics tend to injured soccer player.
Photos by Liz Goff
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park is a massive greenspace of landscaped meadows, athletic
fields, playgrounds, museums and fountains. It is the home of some of the citys most
impressive stadia, including the National Tennis Center (home of the US Open), Shea
Stadium, Queens Theater In The Park and the Hall of Science. Why, theres even a zoo,
operated by the New York Zoological Society.
It is the site of the boroughs annual "Groundhog" outing each Feb. 2,
host of the annual two-day Queens Festival and the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Races. But most
important, Flushing Meadows is the place Queens goes to play, to celebrate and to
kick-back and relax.
The park contains nine baseball diamonds, seven soccer fields, three cricket fields,
and one rugby field. In addition, located throughout the park are numerous playgrounds
with basketball courts, handball courts, and play equipment.
People who visit the park know that its a place where they can spread out a
blanket and relax wiggle their toes in the grass, join in a soccer game, or if they
choose, do absolutely nothing.
Perhaps thats why people who use the park on a regular basis found last
weeks reports of a daylight rape in Flushing Meadows so hard to believe.
Many park "regulars" didnt discount the 21-year-old womans tale
of abduction and rape. They just opted to reserve reaction to the incident until
detectives were able to sort out the facts and find that it did not occur.
"Things like rape just dont happen at this park," Ganna Gayer of Rego
Park told the Tribune.
"Its not going to stop me from coming here. Ill just be extra
cautious," she said.
Stories of the alleged rape traveled through the news media like wildfire
filling front page headlines, unsettling some parkgoers and rattling a few nerves.
Queens Borough President Claire Shulman called for the establishment of a new, separate
police precinct in Flushing Meadows a precinct that would provide exclusive NYPD
policing of the park.
"Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which is much bigger than Central Park (840 acres),
does not have its own precinct, while Central Park does," said Shulman. The Borough
President renewed her long-standing request and also called for increased police patrols
in the boroughs flagship park.
Flushing Meadows is policed by Park Enforcement officers and Urban Rangers, but
primarily by the 110th Precinct with police assigned to Sector Cars and beat cops who
patrol on foot and on bicycle.
Each year, officials at the 110th Precinct oversee a summer "Park Detail"
officers specifically chosen for their experience and knowledge of the park, police
Cops assigned to the Park Detail work various tours, providing coverage from 10 a.m. to
2:35 a.m., seven days a week, authorities said. These cops know where to look and when to
watch conditions, they said.
For example, park officers were responsible last year, for several arrests and the
seizure of over one-half million dollars worth of fireworks.
Two officers assigned to the park detail last year stopped a youth with fireworks prior
to July 4, and upon questioning him obtained the location where the fireworks were stored.
The officers recovered over one-half million dollars of fireworks inside a house located
one block away from the park.
The Park cops made 55 arrests in Flushing Meadows between June and September of 1997,
for "everything including Quality of Life incidents," officials said.
In another case, police assigned to the park spotted something "different"
something "out of whack," authorities said.
The cops spotted a man who appeared to be following females around the park,
authorities said. The cops watched until they caught the man exposing himself to a
female. When they arrested the suspect and "ran" his "pedigree" for
prior arrests, they found that he was wanted by another Squad on a sex charge.
Police said the Park cops were able to seize the fireworks and nab the sex offender
because they were familiar with the park and with normal activities in Flushing
"These cops were able to feel that something was wrong," the authorities
Safety In Numbers
There are 400 parks in Queens County a total acreage of 7,080.
Parks in Queens are real parks, officials said not just patches of green
peppered with a few benches. There are 55 parks in Queens that measure over 10 acres.
Queens parks boast the largest number of tennis courts in the city, an antique carousel
and two of the citys highest revenue generating stadiums.
The sprawling Forest Park measures 538 acres, housing seven playgrounds, tennis courts,
a nature trail, and the Seuffert Bandshell. The park is policed by Park Enforcement Patrol
(PEP) officers and by the 102nd and 104th Precincts.
Park officials said they coordinate enforcement with NYPD patrols to ensure maximum
safety in Forest Park on a regular basis.
Flushing Meadows hosts at least 20 Special Events each year between April and October,
including the citys "You Gotta Have Park," the Queens Festival (two days),
the massive Colombian Festival, the Korean Harvest and the US Open Tennis Tournament
events that bring a total of over 1,306,300 people to the park.
Officials from Patrol Borough Queens North establish separate police
"Details" for these events. Cops from precincts citywide travel to Flushing
Meadows to ensure the safety of parkgoers.
1997 Park Arrests
|Police Home At The Plate
price of a ticket may be higher, and fans may have to shell-out bigger bucks for a frank
and a few beers.
NYPD cops at Shea.
But nothing could discourage the Mets faithful from shipping out to Shea to cheer-on
Queens Boys of Summer.
The Boys are back, ready for a new season to prove their mettle and their skills. A
season of promise after a season of almost-was.
Regulars at Shea Stadium for 18 years, police officers from the Queens North Task Force
have stood by the Mets in times of triumph and loss, fair weather and foul.
Task Force cops, although present at every scheduled home game, have not been able to
watch many of the Mets more memorable moments. They are usually preoccupied with
maintaining order and ensuring the safety of those on the field and off.
Task Force cops at Shea were presented with bicycles by the Mets management in 1996
a tool that provides the cops with added mobility and visibility, enabling them to
patrol areas around the stadium that would otherwise be unreachable by other means of
The Shea Detail includes 34 police officers, four sergeants and one lieutenant
all eager and experienced to police the stadium, making sure peace prevails until the last
faithful Mets fan leaves the ballpark parking lot.
"Theyre just like the Mets," said Task Force Captain Michael Doherty.
"You cant keep them down."