Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Denial and Half Measures are not a Solution

Neighbors of Colman Park were handed half a victory when the Raytown Park Board finally addressed problems at their neighborhood park by agreeing to hire two police officers to patrol the park next Sunday evening. The patrols are in response to unruly crowds gathering at the park on Sunday nights. Complaints of public drunkenness, indecent exposure, fights, illegal vending, loud music and foul language were a common theme at the meeting held at Raytown Park headquarters on Monday night. The special Park Board meeting was a standing room only event as neighbors packed into park headquarters to discuss problems at the park with Park Board members. The night before (Sunday evening) Ward 1 Alderman Greg Walters had invited Park Board and City Council members to the neighborhood to view the Sunday evening activity. Three of the Park Board members attended the gathering on Sunday evening (Nancy Sheil, Carmen Nolke and Bob Smith). Also reported to be in the park that evening were Ward 3 Alderman Charlotte Melson and City Administrator Michael Miller. The crowds in the park, though smaller than usual, did not disappoint. A fistfight and illegal vending of food along with the public drinking were part of the night’s venue. Police took 40 minutes to respond to a complaint on the illegal vending. When they arrived they slowly drove through the park and left without stopping. They were called back and asked to at least make the vendor turn off the noisy generator. On the second pass – an officer did finally stop and tell the vendor to turn off the generator. The incident points to a serious problem on the lack of enforcement of park rules and city laws at the park. At Monday night’s meeting Park Board President Bob Smith said someone needed to get the license number of the vendor. A resident suggested that he (Smith) get the number from the police who responded the night before. For that matter, Smith could have gotten the number himself – after all, he was a witness to the vending going on in the park. There is a sense of denial by city and park officials of problems at the park. They should be applauded for taking the limited step(s) they have taken – but it should also be noted that there was no permanent solution offered. When it was suggested that park curfews be set to an earlier, more reasonable time, they would not discuss it. When it was suggested they go to three softball games per night rather than four, they complained they would lose revenue. When it was suggested that they turn off the power to shelter houses when groups illegally amplify music and disturb the surrounding neighborhoods – they turned a deaf ear to the discussion. Revenue earned from a softball game is not worth the well-being of a community. Park Board members and city officials need to re-think their priorities and place the welfare of the Raytown homeowners and taxpayers that pay the bill first – not second to chasing the almighty dollar. After all, parks are supposed to be a plus to a city, not a detriment. When that simple rule gets turned on its head – there is definitely something wrong.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good for you, Greg. See a problem and respond to it.

Why is it necessary to pay 2 cops for extra duty at a city park?

Per capita we have a more than "enough" police force.

But, as always, everyone is always overworked.

Except those in the private sector who know the only way they can make ends meet is by doing more.

Ain't govt a wonderful thing?

Pat Casady said...

Greg,
Maybe the park and city officials will do something when the fist fights turn into gun and knife fights and somebody gets killed and the lawsuits start. Or a stray gunshot hits an innocent bystander or someone in a home that is close to the park.
It would only take a few weeks of cracking down on illegal goings on and it would stop.
A few people taken into custody or written up with a ticket might show that the laws will be enforced.
Maybe it will take more that a couple of police officers especially if there are big crowds
of offenders. But if nothing is done, it's like saying go ahead break the laws of this community the city won't do a thing about it.

The key here is "laws" being broken. Either you have laws and enforce them or you get
rid of the laws and let offenders run amuck doing what ever they want.

This shouldn't even be a debate. The city makes and passes the laws. The police enforce the laws to protect the public.

The problem here isn't the Police. Maybe most of our elected officials don't understand what a law is for.

Anonymous said...

The real thing here is why the police will not enforce the laws of the city. The thought that the parks would have to hire off duty police to enforce city laws is an out rage. Is the problem that the police chief and the rest of the board is so busy fighting against Walters that they can’t see past it to enforce the laws that are in place? Just having a police car parked in the park doing reports should do the trick. Wait this is Raytown and the red necks cant stop fighting to keep the town safe, the spoiled son can’t come down off his high perch to play nice. The chief of police can’t stop hating the spoiled one to do his job. The workaholic can’t stop working to do the job she was elected to do. And back to this it is a problems in ward one and we cant play nice with Walters. Having walked thought the park and smelled the pot being smoked I’m sure the police could find real laws not park ones to make arrest with. The last time I checked it was still against the law to smoke pot even in Raytown. Get off your ass and get the park cleaned up, it is inside of Raytown so the use of on duty cops is in order.

Andy Whiteman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andy Whiteman said...

REPOSTED TO CORRECT TYPO
This assinine! Are the parks in the City Limits? Who enforces the law in the City Limits.

Why do the taxpayers have to pay 2 off-duty officers to patrol the parks when we have a police department whose job is to enforce the law?

I understand there are criminal violations as well. Aren't the fines from these violations revenue to the city?

It is not logical that the Board passes a noise ordinance and the Police Department financed by the taxpayers can't go out an enforce the law. Is the park off limits to the Police? If the off-duty officers need back up will the PD respond or will the Sheriff be called? I have the feeling that PD will back up their own so I question why aren't on-duty officers patrolling the park?

When there is a death or injury at the park, will the city along with the current administration be sued for ignoring the problem? How much more costly will this be than handling the matter in the first place?

Andy Whiteman
(I ain't no liberal)

Anonymous said...

Hanging out at the Summerfest this weekend. Was this advertised? Outside of Raytown? I didn't see any. Was speaking to a Republican(unlike me) about local stuff. We spoke about the park problem & they said that our local police are too scared to deal with that problem.

Andy Whiteman said...

Most of the media will announce weekend activities. Maybe someone should call the C of C and suggest they call the TV and radio stations next year. That is free advertising!

I can understand why the cops are afraid to go into the park! If I was a cop, I wouldn't accept that as an off-duty job unless there were at least 4 on patrol. From what I have read, it shounds like a job for SWAT! If Raytown PD ever goes there they better use 2 or more cars of 2 officers each. There was a "park-like" party at my neighbor's last fall. I counted 5 or more squad cars responding RED LIGHT & SIREN. The individuals (estimated 40) were disbursed by my dog and the sirens and most were gone by the time officers arrived!

It must be police procedure to stay out of certain areas. I used to live in California and called the PD about activity at one motel. I was informed that the officers won't enter that property even in groups of 2. They would respond only if they had at least 4 officers.

I suggest that Chief Lynch be invited to explain to the Board of Aldermen how his department handles the park situation.

Andy Whiteman

Anonymous said...

SAD, SAD, SAD
It is sad that the Police Department receives big pay raises year after year and cannot even enforce a Park ordinance.
I would not bother calling Chief Lynch. He is not going to do anything but cover his butt.
My question is why isn't the new City Administrator taking the lead on turning this around and making our parks safe?
We pay him big bucks and we, the citizens of Raytown, see nothing being done by him or people in his charge.
In fact everytime I call up to City Hall to talk with the new CA, hs is always out of town attending some sort of conference or siminar.
Finally, where is our new Mayor in all this? I guess he is too busy during his day job to care, or because Greg Walters has taken the lead on this, Mayor Bowers does not want to give support.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like business as usual in Raytown, all the off duty police officers are at all the public schools babysitting during the days, all the on duty officers can't enforce all the ordinances and laws that are on the books to date, yet lets make more laws. Gotta keep that rifraff out of Raytown. Their cars don't say to serve and protect anymore. As far as a mayor, why have one, they are only holding a title and getting paid for it. The city manager is doing the mayors job. Eliminate the city manager position and save money. This is not Lakewood, or Johnson County, yet some people believe that it is. Raytown is not a homeowners association and at last check, I don't pay them my mortgage payment on my property. Most people lack common sense when it comes to what they should/shouldn't do either in public, in their neighborhoods, etc. Part of it may be due to their socioeconomic status or their parental upbringing that causes a lot of the problems that we are currently experiencing in this city. Sure, most people want to keep the things they own looking nice, but the city has become like the gestapo. Don't expect to get a lot of results, as in Ward 5 they can't seem to do anything about adults speeding in neighborhoods, they are more concerned about parking, peeling paint, and selling building permits than they are providing basic services and maintaining their own infrastructure and their own backyard. Don't forget, Coleman Livengood isn't the only park in Raytown that there are problems with. Kenagy, Minor Smith, etc. and the schools after hours. Sounds like they want to give channels 9 and 5 some more live late breaking news out of Raytown, a major gang fight and five shot, two critcal, and three dead... yeah, makes you want to move right in to town. Oh yeah, Wal Mart sucks. It puts americans out of work. Wanna look at TIF projects go astray, look at the old Schnucks store that HyVee has the vulcan death grip on. That is bull$%&^! You gotta drive to Lees Summit, Blue Springs, and Independence to get things or eat dinner anymore. Why do they(the local govt.) think that all these commuters using 350 highway are just going to flock to all of those businesses? They aren't! The only thing on their mind is getting through Raytown so they can get home to lees summit, holden, pleasant hill, and sedalia. Try to get from one side of 350 to the other around 4:30 or 5:00pm. It is almost impossible to do. Raytown has more than enough to keep them busy without ticking off what few residents they still have left. If they leave so do the tax dollars, and you get more rifraff! Oh boy! And rifraff is not meant as a racial term either in its use here.

Robbie Tubbs said...

I was speaking with a friend who lives in Independence and she said that the City of Independence receives grant money to hire off-duty police officers to patrol the parks. Would it be possible for Greg to check into this?

I'm sure it's very frustrating for residents living near the parks. I wouldn't want to have the noise and violence problems near me, either. However, the first time police officers are dealing with the unruly elements in the park, and are unable to respond to a home invasion, a burglary, or other crime, the police will be criticized for that decision, as well.

If the city could get grant money and hire the extra officers to patrol the parks, and it not cost the taxpayer any extra money, it would be a win-win situation.

KM said...

Question?

When group sign-up to use our parks or participate in ball leagues are they given a set of rules and ordinances so as to avoid "we didn't know" response? Is the person that signs the agreements held responsible for the actions of those in his group?

Do we have a set of fines in place for the person who signs the agreement when the group is found in violation?

Yes, the park board, too, has to CYA and keep records of those who can no longer be granted priviledges in our parks.

KM