A Flushing park will soon see increased security after a recent series of crimes left the community on edge.
Three new security guards will soon be stationed at Kissena Park and Kissena Corridor Park, Councilman Peter Koo announced on Aug. 28. The new security guards will begin in September and work five days a week until the park’s closing time.
On July 18 and 19, two women were assaulted in separate incidents and forced to perform sexual acts on a male attacker. On July 24, police identified the alleged assailant as 29-year-old Charles Tobin of Kissena Boulevard in Flushing, who faces charges including first-degree rape and robbery.
Days later, police were reportedly seen unloading heavy excavation equipment at Kissena Park near 164th Street and Underhill Avenue as they searched for the bodies of two possible victims of MS-13, according to the New York Daily News.
The new security officers will work directly with local law enforcement to enforce park rules and keep the park safe, according to Koo’s office.
“At the end of the day, it comes down to presence,” Koo said. “A permanent presence can act as a deterrent to criminal activity.”
Kissena Park and Kissena Park Corridor are 237 and 100 acres, respectively, Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski said.
“There have been a few incidents that have occurred, and [the Park Department has] worked very closely with the police department,” the commissioner said. “We can only be as strong as we are working together.”
The increased security measures were welcome news for some local community leaders.
“This park is no longer [just] for daytime use. It’s also extended in the evening,” said Dorothy Woo of the Kissena Corridor Park Conservancy. “Not only that, but because of the increase in population, many people are using the park for passage … And it is very dangerous.”
“We are appreciative of the proactive approach Councilman Koo is taking by giving law enforcement resources to provide safe places for recreation and the enjoyment of nature,” said Maureen Reagan, president of the Queensboro Hill Neighborhood Association and Green Earth Urban Gardens.
Koo funded the increased security through the Parks Equity Initiative — the city agency’s plan for investing in public parks in neighborhoods that are densely populated.