Sex in New York City Parks? It’s Less of a Thing Than It Used to Be
In a wild, overrun corner of Fort Tryon Park, a secluded area had become a popular destination for those seeking clandestine, casual sex.
The spot became so notorious that it also drew attention from the police: In some years, officers patrolling the park, in Upper Manhattan, would issue public-sex summonses about once a week.
But last year, not a single public-sex summons was handed out.
A similar pattern holds true across New York City. Officers wrote 432 tickets in 2007 for what is referred to as “sex in park,” according to Police Department data. Last year, through late December, they wrote six.
Not only are summonses down, but fewer New Yorkers are calling 311 to lodge complaints about lewd acts in public. In 2013, there were 483 complaints of lewd acts; last year, there were 283, according to the city.
The decline has been so precipitous that it raises obvious questions: Are the police telling frisky parkgoers simply to move along, or have New Yorkers lost some of their lust? Is it the Police Department that has changed, or is it us?
The answer may be a combination of both: City parks are more crowded, with visitors traipsing through even some out-of-the-way spaces; and police officers are also increasingly looking to solve neighborhood problems without resorting to handcuffs or tickets.
The police still target the most active locations and make arrests, yet those related to sex in public have also been on the downswing. The department recorded slightly more than 470 misdemeanor public lewdness arrests last year, down from nearly 700 in 2010. (Reported rapes have increased, but those in parks are rare.)
Phil Walzak, the Police Department’s top spokesman, cited a number of factors to explain the decline, including better coordination with the Parks Department, new policing philosophies and the decline in complaints, which he said was “probably driven by fewer overall occurrences.”