Parks offer breathing space, greenery and some respite in Istanbul, a city that has seen a recent construction boom and is quickly becoming a concrete jungle, but some parks have become dangerous areas, especially at night, when they become a hub for drug addicts and drug dealers.
Istanbul's police are moving to make the city's parks safer for children and families. The "mobile park police" were introduced to the press yesterday after having been tested in the six city districts since March. About 600 police officers are currently deployed to city parks, and the number will increase in the coming days. Officers will patrol the parks around the clock.
Özlem Temür, a senior official at the Turkish National Police's Istanbul branch, said during a press conference yesterday that they have analyzed risk levels in local parks, and that mobile park police have produced "good results" so far. "Parks are places where our citizens can enjoy leisure time and their children can play freely, but they also come with risks that public order. People have been avoiding visiting parks lately due to this risk. So, we created this new unit," she said.
Eyüp Şahin, another senior police officer, said the mobile police unit would enable a faster response to crime activity in parks. "We trained our officers both in handling the security risks in parks and in public relations," he said.
Since the mobile park police project test stage launch last month, police have fined and detained more than 2,200 people. Most crimes or misdemeanors are related to disturbing public peace, panhandling or littering the parks, while officers have also rounded up students caught school to drink. Police said they also detained "a clown" spotted in a park, who turned out to be a drug peddler. In another case, a man sexually abusing a boy in a park in Fatih was captured by mobile park police. A suspected suicide bomber was also arrested at a park in the Sultanbeyli district.