Union leaders call on governor to merge state and park police

Posted: Updated:
VALLEY COTTAGE -

The Police Benevolent Association of New York State says there are not enough police officers to effectively cover the state’s 180 parks.

The PBA says understaffing and mismanagement of park police is putting visitors at risk. They also say the agency is struggling to recruit and retain new police officers.

The union says the burden of keeping the parks safe is being put on local police departments as a result. Union leaders are calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to fix the problem by merging park police with state police.

“We think that is something that should be done,” said Manny Vilar, a park police sergeant and founding president of the PBA of NYS. “We are at the highest part of the season…things are only going to get worse before they get better. We need action now."

In the entire Palisades region, which includes 23 state parks, there are only 29 park police officers. Twenty-three of those officers are in the field and the others are still in training.

On July Fourth, Rockland County Executive Ed Day said that increasingly large crowds were too much for park police to handle and that local, county and state officials need to be involved. A meeting between Day and law enforcement officials is set for next Wednesday.

A spokesperson told News 12 that New York State Parks has been holding park police training academies for the past five years. They also hire additional public safety rangers during peak summer months. He says that state parks are safe and thoroughly policed.

There are currently about 250 park police officers in the state.

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