News and Updates

Park Police Retirements and Attrition Affect Safety of Long Island Parks, Beaches and Historic Sites

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The PBA of New York State is committed to the safety of the general public, its members and the future of their families.
This week, following a series of unacceptable incidents impacting the Park Police, the PBA of New York State drafted and submitted an op-ed to Newsday, the daily newspaper serving Long Island – and one of the most widely read in the state , with a circulation of more than 400,000 people – to make its case.

As a result, today’s editions, on the same pages that often feature nationally known columnists, there is a detailed commentary by PBA president Manny Vilar, aggressively identified the failings of the Cuomo administration and its Park’s Department leadership in recent months.

Here are several of the hard-hitting passages:

     Since 2007, State Park Police have seen the size of the force diminish from 338 officers to 203, a 37 percent decrease. A typical eight-hour shift in the Long Island region — the state’s largest, with 27 park facilities — is staffed year-round by just 37 officers and 11 sergeants.

     This past season illustrates the inadequacies of this staffing level. On June 20, as the first of a series of heat waves hit Long Island, police officers were in peril and forced to call for emergency backup from local law enforcement while responding to an assault at Robert Moses State Park.

     Recruiting officers is a long-term solution to systemic problem. But there are more immediate steps the state could take in the face of a smaller force to protect park police. State parks management should fulfill a cost-effective request, made by its police officers, to provide officers with Tasers — a highly effective, nonlethal tool — to safely control people whose behavior poses a significant public safety threat.

     … it’s worth a pause to ask, during the offseason, what steps are the Cuomo administration taking to protect the State Park Police, and the millions of park patrons who look forward to safely enjoying Long Island’s parks again when summer returns?

The complete piece is available here.

One of the PBA’s primary responsibilities is to advocate for our members, and if the safety of a member and the general public is compromised, you can count on us not only to speak up, but take action.