Councilmen Lester Levine and Eugene Foulcard called upon Police Chief Sabria McGuire Tuesday for those solutions.
Levine said in Caffery Park on Barrow Street vandals are dumping furniture such as sofas, breaking backboards, tearing up volleyball nets and shooting out lights. He said “we need to see what we can do to isolate some of this.”
At Pecot Park on Pecot Street, Levine said vandals dump trash containers.
He also said that “what really disturbed me was over the Christmas holidays when they went into Broussard-Harris (park) and tore down all the Christmas decorations, the sponsors posters… as a councilmen, I spend a lot of time in the parks and I see the young kids enjoy themselves and the park and then later on that night you have a handful going back out into the community and just destroying stuff.”
Levine said there have been no problems at City Park after rehabilitation of equipment was made about a year ago due to normal weathering.
McGuire said juveniles were responsible for the Broussard-Harris incident. “We chased some of them down the railroad track, also some of the neighbors chased them, so we know it was young males, juvenile age,” she said.
Levine asked if police received any tips from the community on who damaged the decorations, and McGuire said they did not. She said officers walked door-to-door, as did she, and “they gave me some speculation but you can’t arrest people on speculation.”
Foulcard said surveillance cameras might help. “Maybe we should look at the cost projects of installing some cameras in some of the parks,” he said.
Mayor Raymond Harris said budget workshops will begin next month and the idea of cameras can be discussed then.
“Some statistics have shown that cameras in public parks may serve as a deterrent,” Foulcard said, agreeing with Harris. “Maybe the cost of the repairs we’ve made might offset the cost of cameras.”
McGuire said police did make an arrest of juveniles shooting out lights with pellet guns. She added that dumping of furniture on Barrow Street has been going on for years and public works constantly picks up trash in that area.
“I’m sure we need to start looking at that,” Levine said.
McGuire said lighting is a strong deterrent to such activity. “That’s the first thing I would address,” she said. “If you pass there at night, the parks are very dark. If a patrol car passes all they have to do is step behind a tree or a post. We do try to do foot patrol but during the holiday season we try to make sure we don’t have people breaking into businesses, your homes, your vehicles.”
“If you had lighting during the summer months, especially around the back side, you’d have more people using the tracks,” Councilman Dale Rogers noted.
Councilman Chuck Autin said if the city didn’t pick up furniture put to the street and let residents take them to the dump themselves it would save money and manpower.
Harris said vandals don’t vandalize when police are in the area, and supported increasing lighting in problem areas. “It’ll make it harder for them to get away with it,” he said. “And we need help from the community if they know who’s doing these things.”
McGuire said police often get calls reporting criminal activity but it’s usually after the fact rather than when the activity is in process.