Union: More park police needed at state parks

A fight at Jones Beach, one day after a brawl at Robert Moses, is raising concerns about whether there are enough police patrolling state parks.

Police say 15 people were involved in a fight at Jones Beach Tuesday at around 4 p.m. State Park Police say the crowd dispersed when they arrived, and two people were taken into custody for marijuana possession.

The back-to-back incidents prompted another warning from New York State Police Benevolent Association President Manny Vilar, who says State Park Police are dangerously understaffed.

"There is a no way we can effectively be a proactive police department and address the small quality of life issues [such as] drinking on the beach," said Vilar.

A spokesman for the State Parks Department says in cases of emergency, park police "routinely partner" with local and state police. Vilar says the partnership is not enough.

"We could be talking about response times of up to 15-20 minutes depending on traffic conditions," he says.

The union head was in Albany Wednesday appealing to legislators to sponsor the "Safe Parks" bill. The legislation would increase the number of officers on the State Parks Police.

He says he hopes to have the bill submitted before the state legislature goes on summer break.

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