Tuesday July 29, 2008
Seeking to reduce the amount of graffiti and vandalism taking place in Louisville’s parks, three organizations have teamed up to offer cash rewards for information leading to the arrest of individuals committing crimes in parks and recreation facilities owned by Louisville Metro Government.
Metro Parks, Kentuckiana Crime Stoppers and the Louisville Metro Parks Foundation announced the new partnership at a press conference this afternoon in Shelby Park, which suffered $2,500 worth of graffiti last week.
Citizens can call Kentuckiana Crime Stoppers 24 hours a day at (502) 582-CLUE or submit tips online at www.582clue.com. Park users should always call 911 if they see a crime in progress, or if there is an emergency. Crime Stoppers will keep the identity of informants anonymous, and will present reward money to those individuals if an arrest is made. The Louisville Metro Parks Foundation is donating funds for the rewards, and will determine the amount of reward money – up to $500 – payable for each incident, based on the seriousness of the crime and the cost to the city for repairs.
“Because of the remoteness of many of our parks, and the reduced amount of activity they see in the evening hours and overnight, they’re unfortunately an easy target for vandals,” said Mike Heitz, director of Metro Parks. “We spend too much staff time, and too many taxpayer dollars, repairing vandalism and graffiti. We’d rather spend that time and money focusing on improvements to parks and enhanced recreation programming.” Metro Parks is responsible for 123 public parks, and is working to expand and improve Louisville’s park land through a far-reaching City of Parks initiative launched by Mayor Jerry Abramson in 2005.
“We’re happy to play a role in preventing abuse of Louisville’s wonderful park system, and in helping identify the people who are responsible for damaging it,” said Dave Yates, coordinator of Kentuckiana Crime Stoppers. “Our proven track record in helping solve cases while protecting the anonymity of informants should reassure park users who have information about a crime that their identity will not be compromised.” Crime Stoppers has facilitated 8,482 arrests and the clearing of 7,613 cases since its inception in 1982.
In 2007, Louisville’s park system suffered $80,500 in graffiti, vandalism and theft – equivalent to the cost of purchasing two new playgrounds. Recent examples include:
- repeated incidents of graffiti at Tyler Park’s restrooms.
- repeated vandalism of the air conditioning system at Beechmont
Community Center, presumably for scrap metal.
- graffiti and vandalism at Sylvania Community Center.
- turf damage caused by a vehicle going off-road near Baringer Hill
in Cherokee Park.
- picnic tables set on fire in Algonquin Park.
“The Parks Foundation exists to assist Metro Parks in delivering high-quality park facilities and recreation programs,” said David Klein, chairman of the Louisville Metro Parks Foundation. “By offering reward money and making it harder for people to get away with defacing our parks, we should ultimately reduce the amount of vandalism they’re suffering. It will free up staff time and funding for park improvement and beautification efforts.”
Citizens who wish to support this effort to reduce vandalism in Louisville’s parks can send a tax-deductible contribution to the Louisville Metro Parks Foundation, P.O. Box 37280, Louisville KY 40233-7280. For more information on the Parks Foundation’s efforts to improve our parks, contact Andrew Crocker at (502) 456-1857.
Fourth District Metro Councilman David Tandy, whose district includes Shelby Park, praised the new partnership. “On behalf of the many park users in my district, I want to thank the Metro Parks Foundation and Kentuckiana Crime Stoppers for taking action to reduce the abuse of parks like Shelby Park,” said Tandy. “The availability of reward money will encourage park users and neighbors to be more vigilant, which is ultimately how we’ll reduce these senseless crimes against our beautiful parks.”