NOPD investigates report of rape in City Park

NOPD investigates report of rape in City Park

Police are investigating a report by a woman who said she was raped in City Park Sunday night by a Hispanic man.

The alleged assault happened near Palm Drive. The investigation of the case comes just days after the NOPD reported a significant increase in rapes and robberies for 2014.

"It makes me feel very afraid and the fact is that so many of us walk out here," said Claire Katner, who walks in the park with her friend.

"Whenever you hear something like that, you know, it's disturbing," said Verdell Wharton, as he sat on a park bench with his wife.

Wanda Wharton is leery about some areas of the park.

"When I go around there by the back, I don't like to go around there by myself, so I hurry up and tell my husband, I try to make it around this way. It just looks isolated around there," she said.

Police acknowledged a 38 percent increase in rapes for 2014, and Sunday's incident has people who visit the park wary.

"We love the park, and it makes a stain on the park. It makes a stain and it disgraces the park and this is horrible," said Mary Munger.

NOPD Chief Michael Harrison said he and his department are focused on solving crimes.

"We're using our officers as smartly as we know how," he said. "We're using every resource available whether it's human resources or technological resources to make sure our cops are out there, that they're where they're supposed to be, and that our supervisors are properly supervising them so that we can deter crime, displace crime and apprehend those who commit crimes."

Harrison said he is not oblivious to the fact that many people in the city are concerned about their safety when they are outdoors.

"Look, we understand how people feel," he said. "We all have families who live here. I live here, my family lives here, and so I hear those same things. What I want to tell them is that we're working to make sure that every neighborhood is safe."

He said the NOPD currently has 1,158 officers. That is much lower than the mayor's stated goal of 1,600.

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