By Bill Parry
One week after the release of private security camera footage showing Karina Vetrano moments before her murder, the NYPD has received 104 tips, including some with new information, but the case remains unsolved. The video captures the 30-year-old Howard Beach jogger near Spring Creek Park Aug. 2, just before 6 p.m. where she was beaten, strangled and sexually assaulted, according to police.
Now a candidate for the state Assembly is calling for increased security measures at the Gateway National Recreation Area just to the south. Stacey Pheffer Amato is taking the National Park Service to task for “inadequate” safety infrastructure, asking them to install security cameras and emergency blue lights in Gateway National Recreation Area, the vast urban park that includes the Jamaica Wildlife Refuge with many deserted trails.
“Security cameras are an essential law enforcement tool that help to deter illegal activity and aid local law enforcement in criminal investigation,” Pheffer Amato said. “It is unthinkable that in this day and age, in an urban park like Gateway, we don’t have cameras and other infrastructure to keep an eye on the area and aid visitors in distress. I urge the National Park Service to recognize the unique needs of our urban parkland and install the infrastructure that will keep our families safe.”
The Democratic nominee for state Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-??/)’s soon to be empty seat, she face Republican Alan Zwirn in the Nov. 8 election.
In a letter to Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, Pheffer Amato called on the federal agency to install permanent security cameras and blue light emergency call boxes in Gateway National Recreation Area. She also characterized current safety measures within the Jamaica Bay unit of the park as “inadequate,” given its urban location and record crowds.
“It is a necessity to have tightened security in parkland that is adjacent to our airports, and certainly with the terror threat that always exists in New York, the National Park Service needs to step up their efforts with additional cameras and patrols,” said Frank Dardani, president of the 106th Precinct Community Council.
Pheffer Amato also raised the concerns of many families in the community over the condition of the Spring Creek section of the park, saying, the land’s “relative isolation, limited visibility due to overgrown grass, and lack of safety infrastructure” present a potential risk to unaccompanied parkgoers.
Danny Ruscillo, the former president of the 100th Precinct Community Council, demanded the National Park Service provide funds to pay for safety equipment immediately.
“The installation of this safety infrastructure should be done in all of our national parks,” Ruscillo said. “This must be done now in order to keep all our citizens that use these parks safe.”
Pheffer Amato commended Borough President Melinda Katz for providing city funds for cameras along the border of Spring Creek. She said now it is time for the National Park Service to recognize that Gateway is an urban park with different security needs than the Grand Canyon or Yosemite.
“Gateway is right in the middle of the largest city in the country, and having cameras and blue light boxes here is simply a no-brainer.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr