US

After decades, Guardian Angels resume Central Park patrols amid concern, debate over NYC crime

FILE - In this June 11, 1996 file photo, Guardian Angels from Tokyo place flowers at the site of a sexual assault of a woman the previous week in New York's Central Park. The Angels were in New York to meet with their New York counterparts. Guardian Angels volunteers recently made a pointed return to Central Park for the first time in over two decades. The anti-crime group says it felt compelled to resume nightly safety rounds in the iconic park because of a 28-percent rise in crime there so far this year. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

FILE - In this June 11, 1996 file photo, Guardian Angels from Tokyo place flowers at the site of a sexual assault of a woman the previous week in New York's Central Park. The Angels were in New York to meet with their New York counterparts. Guardian Angels volunteers recently made a pointed return to Central Park for the first time in over two decades. The anti-crime group says it felt compelled to resume nightly safety rounds in the iconic park because of a 28-percent rise in crime there so far this year. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)  (The Associated Press)

It was a familiar sight a generation ago: groups of anti-crime volunteers in the Guardian Angels patrolling New York City's Central Park.

Back then, the city was plagued by lawlessness that police have worked for years to dispel. Yet the Guardian Angels returned this month to Central Park for the first time in over two decades.

They're citing a 26 percent rise in crime there so far this year.

City officials stress that crime is down on a citywide basis, and the iconic park is still far safer than it once was. Mayor Bill de Blasio calls the park "absolutely safe."

Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa (SLEE'-wah) says the volunteers realize it's safer than it was 20 years ago, and they're there to keep it that way.