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Crying ‘wolf-pack’

The Brooklyn Paper
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Despite a flood of media reports that teenage gangs are waging violent attacks on visitors to Prospect Park, the level of crime within the leafy confines is roughly the same as last year, police officials told The Brooklyn Papers.

Statistics show that the park’s so-called “crime spree” — eight robberies — are the same number that were logged over the same period in 2005.

In all, the 78th Precinct has recorded 12 violent crimes within the park this year, compared to 11 incidents by this time last year, police sources said.

In the wake of initial coverage of the so-called spree, there were follow-up stories citing a “massive” police response — stories the local precinct also called misleading, sources said. The 78th Precinct receives additional officers from Brooklyn’s central command every summer to help patrol the park during its busiest season.

This year the precinct has extra help from two sergeants and 18 officers, who will work with the 78th Precinct’s usual park patrol of one sergeant and a dozen rank and file cops, the source said. They got a similar number of reinforcements last year.

Despite the official party line, an officer in the park told The Papers that additional officers had indeed been deployed since the news reports.

“And we could always use more,” the officer conceded.

Whether part of normal summertime staffing increases or not, the extra patrols — including several cops on bikes and an officer on horseback — were welcomed by several visitors.

“I’m happy to see they are addressing the issue,” said Beth Thomas, walking her Golden Retriever. “I stick to the very well-traveled parts of the park, so I feel safe.”

Most park-goers said they felt safe. “I like the park and never had any problems,” said Slope resident David Madruga, resting on a tree near Seventh Avenue.

Mavi Graves, a professional dog-walker from Williamsburg, was also enjoying a beautiful day in the park. “I feel very safe,” she said. “I even walk a dog late at night, sometimes.”

Police confirmed media reports of two recent robberies, on May 20 and May 24, when a group of teens surrounded a 53-year-old man, pushed him to the ground where they beat and robbed him.

The remaining six robberies included attacks on May 4 and 5, both involving a gang of teens targeting victims near their own age on Prospect Park West. Police nabbed two of the pre-teen suspects on May 5.

A 33-year-old woman was jumped by a group of five teens as she jogged along West Lake Drive on the afternoon of March 24. Police arrested two of the three youngsters the same day.

According to the New York Post, another victim was attacked on Fifth Street and Prospect Park West on March 28. A gang jumped another victim at the same spot on April 15 and struck another a few blocks away on April 18.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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