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What's With All the Cops in Prospect Park?

The 78th Precinct has beefed up park patrols in response to increased crime.

If you've cruised through Prospect Park in the evenings lately, you've noticed that the whole place is awash with cops, flashing their lights everywhere from Parkside Avenue to Bartel-Pritchard Square.

Don't worry, they're not looking for any escaped murderers. (Because they already caught him.) The sudden spike in police presence is the NYPD's response to an increase in park crime, particularly thefts of pricey devices like iPhones.

“As a result of this recent spike, I am putting more of my officers in the park,” Michael Ameri, Commanding Officer of the 78th Precinct, told Park Slope Patch in November.

And indeed he has. In December, Ameri reported that his officers increased their park arrests by 10 percent, with three of the collars including suspects involved in iPhone muggings.

But park-goers beware: The increased police presence means pedestrians, cyclists and drivers better make dang sure they're not breaking any laws. This reporter got a summons a few weeks back for riding her bike along West Drive at 2 a.m. Turns out the park is closed from 1 to 5 a.m.—who knew?

Probably me, if I'd taken the time to read Prospect Park's dense list of rules. Acquaint yourself with them before you find yourself in the glare of the 5-0's blinding lights for letting your dog off leash at the Parade Grounds or failing to have a bell on your bike.

Though we highly recommend parsing the laws yourself, we've isolated a few that are likely to trip up the amateur park visitor:

  • Cycling is permitted only on the main park roadway, Center Drive, and Well House Drive. Cycling is not permitted on Park paths.
  • Cyclists must travel in a counter-clockwise direction and obey all traffic signals. (Ed. Note: I've gotten caught for this one, too. Don't even try it.)
  • By law, bicycles must be equipped with front and rear lights when operating before dawn and after dusk.
  • Signal for turns and lane changes. Be cautious when passing others and warn them of your presence.
  • Dogs are never allowed in playgrounds, on bridle paths, on ballfields, or other designated sports areas.
  • There are no off-leash areas at the Parade Ground.
  • Groups larger than 25 must obtain a permit.

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