U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08), a member of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee, has written to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) asking for enhanced security patrols and other measures to protect residents who visit Spring Creek Park in Howard Beach.
On Aug. Karina Vetrano, an area resident, was brutally murdered while jogging along an expanse of underdeveloped wetlands that stretches through Spring Creek Park and the Gateway National Recreation Area in Brooklyn.
The area where Vetrano was found, near the intersection of 161st Ave. and 78th street, is a sprawling stretch of park space with mostly marshes, hemmed in by roadways and houses. It has been reported that its weeds, also known as phragmites, reach heights up to 12 ft.
“The fact that this vibrant, bright young woman was brutally assaulted and killed in broad daylight at the largest urban National Park in the nation shocks the conscience,” said Jeffries in his letter.
“Residents in Howard Beach and throughout New York City deserve a safe and secure recreational space,” added Jeffries, whose 8th Congressional district in parts of Brooklyn and Queens, includes Howard Beach.
In this regard, the congressman said there are several steps the National Park Service should take in order to enhance security and prevent the recurrence of similar tragic incident.
First, Jeffries said the DOI should provide the Gateway National Recreation area with the resources needed to maintain the parkland “in a manner that controls growth of the shrubbery and weeds, which is a potential shelter for criminal conduct.”
Second, he urged the DOI to work closely with city, state and federal law enforcement authorities in order to increase the security presence in the area including significantly enhanced patrols by U.S. Park Police in the interior and on the perimeter of the park.
Third, Jeffries said the park needs improved lighting and security cameras to monitor activity and serve as a deterrent.
Lastly, he urged the DOI to expedite execution of the US$69 million ecological restoration project, “which will greatly improve the user-friendly nature of the park.”
“In short, we must do everything possible to prevent another tragic murder from ever happening again,” Jeffries said.