for breaking news visit www.qns.com MARCH 3, 2016 • The queens CourieR 27 oped Time to PEP up patrols in Queens’ parks BY CITY COUN CILMAN ROR Y LANCMAN With the mayor’s announcement a few weeks ago that 67 new Parks E n f o r c e m e n t Patrol (PEP) officers would be funded in this year’s budget, some of us might have felt hopeful that many of these officers would go to Flushing M e a d o w s Corona Park, which has one of the highest crime rates of any park. A d d i n g more officers to Flushing Meadows will help Queens get its fair share of PEP officers — right now, Queens currently has less than four officers per 1,000 park acres, the least of any borough. Instead, Flushing Meadows and Queens have been forgotten yet again. Only eight of the new officers will be coming to Queens, and no specific allocation has been made for Flushing Meadows. This means Queens will have only 36 officers, the least of any borough. Brooklyn, which already had 48 officers to Queens’ 28, is getting 20 new officers. Manhattan, which had 46 officers, is getting 10 new officers. Even Staten Island has more than Queens. When you look at the number of officers per 1,000 acres of parkland, it’s even worse. With the new officers, Brooklyn will have about 15 officers per 1,000 acres, and Manhattan will have 21. Queens? Less than five. This is particularly egregious because Flushing Meadows- Corona Park has consistently had some of the highest crime rates in the city. I know, because I represent about half the park. Only Central Park has more crime — and they have a dedicated police precinct that covers only the park. What does Flushing Meadows get? A few PEP officers and an occasional patrol from the two police precincts who cover the park but which also have significant duties in other parts of Queens. This lack of enforcement is making Flushing Meadows more dangerous. In 2012, there were 56 crimes in the park, but in 2014, there were 75. That’s not the direction we want to see these numbers going, but can it really come as a surprise when criminals know they roam the park without fear of ever encountering an officer? Queens deserves its fair share of new PEP officers, and the bulk of them must go to Flushing Meadows. The park needs a dedicated force to patrol the busiest areas and protect the families who frequent the park. With a specific group of PEP officers assigned to Flushing Meadows, we will see the crime rate decline, instead of continuing to increase. This park, one of the largest in the entire city, should be a jewel of our parks system, the Central Park of Queens. Instead, decades of neglect and a lack of enforcement have left it with rising crime and numerous maintenance issues. Providing Flushing Meadows Corona Park with the number of PEP officers we need is a key way the city can start reversing its indifference toward the park. Councilman Rory I. Lancman chairs the Committee on Courts & Legal Services and represents the 24th Council District. Depending on who you ask, here’s a sight for sore eyes — or a sore for sight eyes. For decades, the Elmhurst Gas Tanks were fixtures in the neighborhood and for anyone who ever drove along the nearby Long Island Expressway. It was such a prominent landmark that it was regularly featured in radio traffic reports often describing expressway backups either to or from the tanks. Utilized by Brooklyn Union Gas and later Keyspan to store excess natural gas, the tanks became obsolete during the 1990s with the advent of new technology. Keyspan would dismantle the tanks, and by 2000, the structures were but a memory. Following much debate over what to do with the six acres of land that the tanks once occupied, the city eventually purchased the site for $1 and developed Elmhurst Park. Share your historic photos of Queens with us! Email them to email@example.com, share them on our Facebook or Twitter pages or mail print photos to The Queens Courier, 38-15 Bell Blvd., Bayside, NY 11361. All mailed pictures will be carefully returned to you! How long is too long to wait for an ambulance? BY COUN CILWOMAN ELIZABETH CRO WLEY The city’s delivery of emergency medical services (EMS) directly affects the health and well-being of all New Yorkers. No matter where you live or how much money you make, when you or a loved one needs help and call 911, every second counts. How long is too long to wait for an ambulance? In 2015, the average response time to a lifethreatening medical emergency was 9 minutes and 22 seconds, up 9 seconds from the previous year. In Queens, the number is worse, and residents more often than not waited more than 10 minutes for help in the most serious of medical emergencies. It’s important to recognize that as the city’s population continues to grow, a greater demand is placed on our EMS. Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics, who are working harder than ever before, responded to over 1.6 million calls last year. Additionally, life-threatening medical emergencies increased by 17 percent. EMS personnel work every day often under strenuous conditions, and are expected to respond to more calls without the resources to match. In order to ensure the Fire Department (FDNY) and EMS are operating efficiently, a level of transparency must be established when reporting on response times. For this reason, I introduced legislation (Int. 135) that would provide the city with more detailed data on how the FDNY responds to emergency 911 calls. The department currently classifies emergency calls into one of nine categories, or segments, but does not report the response time for each individual segment. The FDNY only reports the response time for segment one calls individually, and then groups segments one A LOO K BACK through three. We do not know what classifies as a segment four through nine. This bill would require the department to report the response times to each of the remaining segments. If passed, this legislation would provide the necessary transparency in emergency response times, which can be used to identify what we need to save the lives of more New Yorkers. However, there are additional ways to improve efficiency and address climbing response times. Currently, EMS ambulance units travel without GPS navigation, and EMTs rely on their general knowledge of the neighborhood or paper maps to get around. Also, in many cases, delays at hospitals and an inefficient dispatch policy cause delays. Addressing these issues could contribute to decreasing response times. This month, the City Council begins budget hearings, in which we will evaluate the mayor’s management and proposals for the upcoming fiscal year. EMS resources must be a top priority. We owe it to all New Yorkers to reduce response times. Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley is the chair of the City Council’s Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice Services.
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