Following a string of sex attacks at Forest Park, residents are heaving sighs of relief after this week’s announcement that police cameras will soon be installed in the area.
Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) and state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) allocated $250,000 for the security cameras, which Miller said he expects will be installed in the Forest Park area within months.
Originally, Miller and Addabbo were going to work with the city Parks Department to place the security cameras because the NYPD would not make a commitment that the instruments would definitely go in the Forest Park. However, the NYPD promised the two Queens legislators this week that the cameras would be set up in the area where Miller and Addabbo wanted them to go. Prior to this week’s guarantee from the NYPD, Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski was working with Miller on her department placing cameras in Forest Park in lieu of the NYPD.
Miller said he appreciated Lewandowski’s efforts but said that the NYPD’s announcement would make life easier on all fronts because, one, the cameras are “more efficient” than those from Parks and, two, the NYPD would then monitor the surveillance footage.
One NYPD security box, which contains two cameras, costs approximately $39,000.
“We’ like to place the cameras at the entrances to the park – on Forest Parkway, by the tennis courts, by Park Lane South and Woodhaven Boulevard, by Victory Field – areas where people are going in and coming out,” Miller said. “We want to make sure people are safe, and the cameras are a deterrent to crime.”
Since the end of August, police have been searching for a stun-gun wielding man who they say raped an elderly jogger around 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 26 in the section of the park near 72nd Street and Union Turnpike.
Police believe the same attacker is linked to at least five other sexual assaults in the area since 2011 – including attempting to rape a 13-year-old girl walking near Park Lane South and Myrtle Avenue.
The attacker is described as a white man between the ages of 30- and 40-years-old, stands at about 5-foot-10, and has a thin build and short hair, according to police.
Anyone with information should contact the NYPD at (800) 577-TIPS.
By Anna Gustafson