After a homeless man stabbed five people (including a two-year-old boy) in Riverside Park last week, parks enforcement officers are asking the city to allow them to carry guns. “We can get shot, but we can’t shoot back,” Marlena Giga, who was a Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP) officer for 14 years, told the Post. "We’re police officers without the salary, the title and the gun."
As of now, PEP officers are allowed to carry batons, handcuffs and pepper spray, but the Parks Department says their focus is mainly on quality-of-life violations: “The NYPD is the city’s primary crime-fighting agency,” a Parks spokesman told the Post. In the last year, there have been several high profile stabbings in city parks; this isn't the first time PEP have asked to be able to carry weapons.
The NYC Parks Department maintains more than 1,700 parks in the city, including 950 playgrounds, 700 playing fields, 550 tennis courts, 14 miles of beaches, 13 golf courses, seven nature centers, six ice skating rinks, four zoos, four botanical gardens and more across 28,000 acres. During the last decade, the number of officers dwindled from low to almost non-existent. But in March, the city finally hired 200 extra workers.