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Is your park facing loitering problems and vandalism?

Deter Vandalism and Loitering in Parks

Is your park facing loitering problems and vandalism?  Know the key indicators to help solve this problem and what you can do to help your park.

It is not very difficult to discern when a storefront is open for business.  Key indicators often include well-displayed business hours, which are commonly posted next to the main entrance.  Visible sales personnel may signal that a shop is still open for business or an unilluminated sales floor of a store might signal that store is closed.  A line is drawn with store and mall hours being clearly visible.  However, indications of a closed property are not always so obvious.

Most city-owned parks list the rules of the area with signs.  These include allowable recreational activities, dog leash laws, and designated parking spaces.  But the time at which the park closes is sometimes ambiguous.

Generally, as a rule of thumb, city parks tend to close around dusk.  This grey area regarding the park’s operating hours can lead to some oblivious teens or young adults stumbling into an ungated recreational location after hours, imbibed with strong drink and an unwavering drive to wreak havoc, which turns into vandalism. These delinquents are now guilty of committing several misdemeanors, including illegal loitering, public intoxication, and vandalism if the damage is still within the misdemeanor penal code.   If the damage is extensive, the misdemeanor becomes a felony.

Vandalism is an extremely common occurrence in parks after hours. Vandalism most often occurs when a vandal has a good chance of not being caught.  Less public visibility and poor outdoor lighting make a park an easy target for a potential vandal who’s loitering late at night.

There are, however, a few things the Parks Department can do to limit this occurrence:

  • Post Clear Signs– signs displayed near the entrance and exits in well-lit areas let potential lingerers know the park is closed. Be sure the signs are visible and the hours are clearly stated.
  • Motion Sensored Lighting- the more lighting an area has, the less likely vandals will remain. Motion sensored lights save energy while illuminating only when the detector senses motion.
  • Monitoring– regular sweeps conducted by the police department, security guards, and park rangers deter loitering and reduces nuisance crimes.
  • Vandal Resistant Materials– to be used in graffiti prone areas. They are simple to clean if graffiti does occur.
  • Vandalism Deterrent Cameras cameras designed to stop vandalism are very effective and should be placed in strategic areas where crime is most likely to occur.
Halloween Decorations

Graffiti, Vandalism and Theft, OH MY!

Are you ready for the increase in nuisance crimes such as graffiti, vandalism and theft during America’s second major holiday? People in America are expected to spend about 8.4 billion dollars this year in 2016 to celebrate this Halloween. This is the highest expected spending in the history of Halloween.

Decorations of spiders, graves and bats are in full swing as the shorter and cooler days approach, but so is the mischief of vandalism, graffiti and theft.  What can you do to protect the valuable assets that your department has worked so hard at attaining?  Whether it is pavilions, park benches or bathrooms, your cities’ assets are at a higher risk during this scary time of Witches, Goblins and Darth Vaders.  How can you protect these valuable assets from nuisance crimes?

While searching the web, one can find many articles on how to protect your house or your car, but what about park equipment and athletic sheds located in the remote dark areas?  Even eggs and toilet paper can be costly to clean up, not to mention the damage caused to the equipment.  In addition, the department needs to be ready for the morning visitors who come to enjoy the facilities you provide.  This can cause a lot of stress.

A 2009 Popular Mechanic’s article, “Halloween Vandalism: How to Prevent it- And How to Clean it UP”, gives some pretty good tips but states keeping your property well-lit is the best preventative, because people do not want others to watch them as they commit their mischief. This can be difficult in a remote area. Also, it is costly to keep the lights on all night where electricity is available.

The FlashCAM systems make their presence known, and they require no hard wiring, making it easy to deploy.  This is a cost effective way to guard your valuable assets from graffiti, vandalism and theft.

City Park

Protect the Parks

If your career is in Parks and Recreation, then you are most likely familiar with the NRPA Americans’ Engagement with Parks Survey which was released earlier this year.  The highlights suggest people enjoy the parks and want other people to enjoy the parks as well.  Having a park in the community is important to 9 out of 10 people.

 

The 2016 October NRPA article, Public Park Usage: Motives and Challenges, lists highlights worth noting.  Most of the key points focus on how often people visit the park and why.  Looking at the graph,  58% of the park users came to be with friends and family, and 52% visited to engage in some type of physical activity.  This may come as a surprise, but 3/4 of the people surveyed want more money spent on parks and recreation. Clearly, parks are important to people.  Parks increase the enjoyment of life and maybe even possibly the quality of life, which should be available to all people.

 

Unfortunately, some parks are targeted with graffiti and vandalism.  This causes concern for people who visit the park and the surrounding neighborhood.  Graffiti and vandalism bring down the enjoyment because it defaces the beauty of the park, but it also causes fear.  Parks that bear the burden of graffiti and vandalism lack the presence of security, which causes the park to no longer feel safe. In the same article mentioned above, personal safety was reported as a barrier to 17% of the people surveyed.  That means these people are not able to enjoy the park because of fears that they or the people they care about are not safe at the park.

 

Since parks are an important part of  quality life, it should be important to officials to safe guard the use of the parks for all communities and protect those who use them.  What are you doing to protect the parks?

Playground

Stop Park Vandalism

It is hard to believe that in this generation with all the education on protecting the environment and recycling that the graffiti problem and leaving trash at public parks even exists.  According to the Saint George News, Hurricane, jumping rocks located in Sand Hollow State Park, had to be closed for clean up due to accumulated trash and graffiti.  Sand Hollow State Park is a beautiful park with large rock and sandstone formations that are part of the Sand Hollow Reservoir.  The Sandstone formations are beautiful natural art pieces that sit on the water’s edge. The assistant park manager, Darren Tucker, indicated the area is being “marred by littering, graffiti, things being thrown into the water even.”   It is hard to believe this happened. Who would mar this beautiful area?

And yet,  today more and more of our National Parks are getting tagged and marred. If our society is to leave a better world for the next generation, we need to do more than clean up after the fact.  Cleaning the graffiti introduces chemicals to the area which affects the air quality and the water, due to run off.  The chemicals could also enter and contaminate the in-ground water.  As the left behind trash sits in the sun, chemicals are released.  Our society needs to do better.

As a society what can we do? The Los Angeles Police Department has listed several ways an individual can help their community. Several to note are education, clean up, reporting and protecting. As most offenders are young, the LAPD encourages the public to volunteer in areas that educate the young that vandalism, which includes graffiti and illegal trash dumping, is a crime.  Volunteering also encourages the young to use their time for valuable moments rather than doing something that is hurtful to the community.  It is important we make our parks a priority.  What are some ways you can help stop graffiti and vandalism in our parks?