Wmspt Police Chief Foresman issues comment on Memorial Park actions

April 24, 2014

There is a lot of talk about the removal of the basketball hoops in Memorial Park. Some people including our city council president Bill Hall are questioning the surveillance cameras and their ability to capture those “hooligans” who are responsible.   This is tough talk from a man who voted for a reduction in the number of police officers patrolling our streets not to mention that he was extremely critical of the Williamsport Rental Ordinance and only voted in favor after essential components had to be removed.    In the face of what many are touting to be a so-called “heroin epidemic” we have now resorted to pointing fingers at the surveillance cameras for not catching the “hooligans”  who are responsible for littering. Where are our priorities? This is odd as since Mr. Hall voted in favor of restrictions to be placed upon the use surveillance cameras in the first place. Since voting for restricted use surveillance cameras he has never once inquired as to how they are operated. Furthermore, no one has questioned the Williamsport  Bureau of Police surveillance camera policy in regards to what restrictions were placed upon their operation to ensure our citizens privacy. If it was questioned you would learn that observations of “individuals”, must be based on articulable evidence that the person being viewed may be or may have been involved in criminal activity. This is just one example of limitations that were required of these cameras before we could gain permission to place them in the parks to catch “hooligans”.   
This leads one to question where these “hooligans” parents were when their children were littering up the neighborhood park. This also causes one to ponder where all of the other neighborhood children were when these “hooligans” were hijacking Memorial Park. Parks were designed as places where neighbors, citizens, and families can meet to network and form bonds as they become invested in a neighborhood. Memorial Park has become a gathering place for individuals many of whom are not from the neighborhood and wouldn’t congregate there if there wasn’t an attraction for them. Add to this the fact that there is no supervision or informal control and we have a problem.  Our citizens need to understand that our parks are not just locations for “hooligans” to gather but more importantly a place for friendships and bonds to form with the neighborhood. Too many citizens have been robbed of the opportunity to use Memorial Park for it intended purpose as it has been overtaken by “hooligans”.

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