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Springfield Park District Closes Parks Earlier Due to Crime

Updated: Sunday, July 20 2014, 04:11 AM CDT

SPRINGFIELD -- A spike in crime has prompted Springfield Park District officials to close two parks earlier.

A kid friendly zone has become a haven for drugs, prostitution, vandalism and more, according to Springfield park district police.

"It's obviously frustrating," said Captain Jonathan Davis. He says park police have increased patrols at Enos Park and nearby Gehrmann Park, after calls to police increased at Enos Park 18-percent in the last year.

"I've watched them set the playground equipment on fire.. they drink, smoke. We've even watched them have sex... I call the police in a heartbeat," said Shannon Norris, who lives across the street from Enos Park; and runs a daycare out of her home. She says she's fed up with the crime.

"It makes me feel bad because I'm a mother. Two, because I'm like y'all are not setting an example."

Now, a possible solution. The Springfield Park District board unanimously voted Thursday night to close Enos and Gehrmann parks at dusk; they currently close at 10:30 PM.

Captain Davis said, "It's a small neighborhood park so a lot of people in the park after dusk are either congregating to do criminal activity or just hanging out. So I believe by closing these at dusk, we'll be able to eliminate a lot of our problems."

Norris is glad the parks will soon close earlier but doesn't think it will curb crime much. She said, "Shutting it down early, I don't think will stop it. people will sneak and do things all the time... I believe they'll just have to do more patroling."

The change in park hours will take effect within the next few days; after the park district gets the word out and changes signs at Enos and Gehrmann parks.

One issue Springfield park district police are running into is there are fewer officers than this time a year ago. Sometimes there's no park district officer on duty at all. Captain Davis admits it's harder to combat crime with only four full-time officers.

Springfield Park District Closes Parks Earlier Due to Crime

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