CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) — After an altercation turned deadly in Green Square Park last year, the City of Cedar Rapids have implemented solutions to reduce disturbances.
One of them, a camera system patrolling the park. The system has been in place since January of this year.
Cedar Rapids Police Lieutenant Anthony Robinson said it’s hard to tell if the weather has deterred crime or the cameras themselves but overall they’ve been helpful.
In fact, within the first week, the cameras helped lead to an arrest after vandals came through the park.
“In the first week it was even in the dead of winter and we already made an arrest when some juveniles broke some decorative globes in the park. The camera footage was crucial to identifying who they were and making an arrest,” said Lieutenant Robinson.
Although the cameras have not been up a full year to compare the numbers calls for service do appear to be down. Last year there were 60 calls for service at Green Square Park, so far this year there have been 15.
On a nice day, hundred can enjoy the park with a few groups of regulars, some of whom said they believe cameras help with prevention.
“Before you make any decision you want to think about it, will this get me in trouble? Would I fight here would I not fight here? So I feel like the cameras are stopping things before it happens,” said Mohamed Cond of Cedar Rapids.
Cameras aren’t the only solution. Alcohol was also banned and recently the city has implemented an Ambassador Program on a trial period during the summer. Six individuals, selected by the Willis Dady Homeless center, patrol the park and help keep the peace, remind visitors of the rules, as well as pick up trash.
“As far as I can see it’s gone over really well. I think there were some concerns from the public at the initial onset but I don’t think those problems ever came to be. So at this point, it’s been a success but we’ll see as we get farther into the season,” said Robinson.
Another man hanging out in the park today, Timothy Bloom said he preferred the ambassadors over the cameras, “You get someone to talk to, someone who knows your story and is not just someone watching a camera.”
According to Robinson, keeping the park busy helps reduce crime, an idea Parks and Recreation Director, Scott Hock echoed. Green Square will become a center for free youth programming over the summer months.
“We’re going to bring in animals, weather permitting from old Mcdonalds farm. We’re going to have just some old fashioned games in the park and then we’re getting meals provided for those 18 and older by Horizons,” said Hock.
Every Thursday morning from 11:30-12:30 activities for those 18-year-old and younger.
Details about the weekly events can be found on the city’s Park and Recreation website.