On any given evening, Central Park now hums with life well into the night. Crime statistics for the park show a steady decline in menace. This year through mid-December, according to the police, 17 robberies had been reported in the park, down from 37 in 2001 — and 731 in 1981. Rapes, too, are down sharply, with only two reported this year. The last homicide occurred in 2002. And many parkgoers these days have never even heard of the 1989 attack on the so-called Central Park jogger, who was raped and left for dead while running in the park one evening.
The Central Park Conservancy, which manages the park for the city, started a late shift — from 1:30 to 10 p.m. — in the late 1990s, as the park became safer. In the past year, four more workers were added to that shift, for a total of 40. They do the usual tasks — picking up litter, inspecting bathrooms, recording broken bulbs — but, armed with cellphones and walkie-talkies, they also supplement the police.
The Central Park police say that a main reason crime has fallen is the stricter enforcement of the park’s 1 a.m. curfew. Installing 30 surveillance cameras around the perimeter of the park, each with two lenses, has also enhanced security.
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