Brian Zumhagen has been a weekend anchor at WNYC since 2003. His career in journalism started in 1993, with an internship in the press office of the German Green Party’s parliamentary delegation. Brian went on to spend the rest of the ‘90s working as a reporter, producer, and fill-in anchor at NPR member station KQED in San Francisco. He’s returned to Germany several times over the years for reporting projects. Most recently, he won a grant from the Arthur F. Burns Fellowship to produce radio features for the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Before coming to WNYC, Brian was a frequent contributor to PRI’s The World. He reported for the program on 9/11 and served as the show’s United Nations correspondent during the run-up to the Iraq war. Brian lives in Queens with his wife and children.
Parks' Safety Resources Aren't Distributed Equally, Council Members Say
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Parks in Upper Manhattan and the outer boroughs are getting shortchanged when it comes to safety, some city lawmakers claim.
The City Council's Parks and Recreation Committee held a hearing Wednesday on why Central and Lower Manhattan get a disproportionately high number of patrol officers based on park acreage.
During one exchange, committee chair Melissa Mark-Viverito pointed out that relatively small areas like Battery Park City and the Hudson River Park have more than 20 officers apiece from the Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP).
"What is it, eight officers assigned to the whole borough of the Bronx?" said Mark-Viverito, who noted the parks she represents in Harlem and the Bronx — which has about 7,000 acres of parkland — have just a fraction of those in Manhattan.
Mark-Viverito and other council members from the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens expressed concern about budget cuts to the PEP program and said crime rates are rising in their parks.
The Parks Department's First Deputy Commissioner Liam Kavanagh said Manhattan gets more PEP officers because its parks get more visitors than those in other parts of the city. Manhattan parks have also entered into partnerships with universities and private organizations that pay for the deployment of additional officers, he said.
"Manhattan has the highest population density of any borough, and the lowest per capita parkland, and that creates much more regular use of the parks than we see in other boroughs," Kavanagh said.
But Mark-Viverito said those public-private partnerships make the disparity even worse: "Whoever has the ability to pay, well then, they're going to get the additional service. ... I think every community, every park, needs to be treated equitably."
The PEP program was founded in 1981. The peace officers enforce quality-of-life laws and other park codes and provide crowd control and security during events. They are unarmed but can issue summonses and make arrests.