MILFORD — Police Chief Travis Marsh presented the Milford Town Council with an overview of law enforcement activity at Waubee Lake Park in 2017 and plans for park security in the future at the council’s monthly public meeting Monday evening, April 9.
The report comes after issues were raised during the March meeting about litter, public consumption of drugs and alcohol, drug dealing and unruly behavior at the park. Council member Bob Cockburn called for park employees to report unlawful behavior to police after commenting on the foul language, smoking and “intimidating behavior” he witnessed on visits to the park with his grandchildren; additionally, Marsh reported drug activity at the park was known to other law enforcement agencies, and was the “tip of the iceberg for what we have going on in Milford.”
At Monday’s meeting Marsh stated, “We’re making lots of progress.” And while the majority of the proposed resolutions to the problems were not released to the public so as not to reduce their effectiveness, Marsh did indicate the cameras installed at the park will soon “go live” 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The report revealed a possible discrepancy between perception and reality. While it noted concerns about high volumes of cans and other alcoholic beverage containers found at the park, Marsh wrote, “We have not had any dispatched alcohol related calls for service since 2013.”
And while there were reports of suspicious persons and vehicles, Marsh wrote, “We have not had any reports of open drug use at the park.” Additionally, the report stated, “We have not made any arrests related to active drug use at the park.” There was one arrest made for a synthetic drug after a report of a suspicious person in 2014.
Marsh reported the primary issues for concern at the park to be: drinking, as evidenced by discarded containers; paraphernalia, with less than a dozen syringes reported to police department,“one too many and we are working for other agencies to deal with drug traffic in the Milford area; cussing, which is difficult to enforce due to police presence altering behavior; animals, with visitors who “outright disobey the rules for pets at the park” and misinterpret the rules to not include the boat launch; parking, as vehicles often illegally park in the boat launch area and in handicapped spaces.
Marsh did note the “2017 officer shortage caused the department to take a reactive role which limited our proactive mission.” While the officers try to get to the park every one to two hours, other calls often engage them for three to four hours at a time.
At Monday’s meeting, Marsh also reported he intends to adopt a social media policy and hopes to start a “coffee with a cop” program.
Regarding cameras and the use of social media to “understand and/or uncover crimes trends in town,” Marsh also stated, “We do not wish to create a surveillance state, we do want to make Milford a safe and quiet town for its residents.”