The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Joplin Metro

July 17, 2009

Volunteers needed to help Joplin police watch city parks

By Anne Hershewe

The Joplin Police Department and the Joplin Parks and Recreation Department have started a Park Watch Program to help keep city parks safe and clean.

The police department wants volunteers to keep an eye on their neighborhood parks. These volunteers would work with the JPD to report crimes or suspicious activity, and will have regular meetings to talk with police officers about park safety.

Parks in the program are: Wildcat, Grand Falls, McIndoe, Parr Hill, Schifferdecker, Landreth, Leonard, Humphrey, Mohaska, Spiva, Roanoke, McClelland, Garvin and Cunningham.

Doug Joyce, director of the Joplin Parks and Recreation Department, said there wasn’t any incident that sparked the program. It evolved, he said, because of the fact that “parks are getting used more.”

The JPD has police officers on bicycles who have been patrolling parks since mid-June.

“We would like to have three or four people per park,” said Sgt. Darren Gallup, of the JPD Special Enforcement Unit. “It’s really kind of an off-shoot of the Neighborhood Watch Program.”

Gallup also said: “We are noticing an increase in different reports coming from the parks.”

Most were reports of property damage such as vandalism and graffiti.

Gallup said the main goal is to stop small crimes before they escalate.

“The biggest thing we’re trying to do is take a proactive step to ensure continued safety of the parks,” he said.

Everett Ruark, of Seneca, was at Cunningham Park with his sons last week and said the program would be beneficial for the community.

Jack and Jeannie Dickson, of Joplin, were have lunch at Schifferdecker Park last week and both seemed excited about the new program.

“It’s a wonderful park. (But) there’s always vandals and graffiti. You can’t stop that,” said Jack Dickson, pointing to the marks on the picnic table.

“It’s a wonderful idea,” added Jeannie Dickson.

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