Joe Cole Park opened about a year. It's a nice green space, with a terrific spray park. Unfortunately some people have been abusing the park recently, and it's interfering with other's enjoyment of the area. What follows is a letter that went out on multiple local lists, and was forwarded to me by the author. It raises
several concerns, and requests prompt action from MPD, and assistance from Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie. Just remember to call the police if you see any of the behaviors mentioned below (ok, not minor littering). If you are hesitant to call (e.g. you don't want to leave the park, and don't want rowdy teens to hear you call) you can always text MPD anonymously at 50411.
Dear Chief Groomes, et. al
I am writing to request police action to curb the chronic problems that are creating a negative environment for the many children, families, and other neighbors who use the playgrounds, recreation, and school grounds at Wheatley Elementary and Joe Cole Recreation Center at the 1200 block of Neal and Morse streets.
On a regular basis at all hours of the morning, afternoon, early evening, and night I have observed people openly smoking marijuana, gambling, drinking, etc in the middle of the park, in the children's playground areas, on the picnic tables, on the basketball courts, and on the stairs of the recreation center. The smoke is so thick that it permeates the children's playground areas. I have also observed people riding motorcycles on the field very close to children, open littering, vandalism, illegal dumping of construction materials in the school dumpsters, etc. Needless to say this is not a healthy environment for children, and does not send the right message to children about how to behave in general, much less on an elementary school grounds.
This is a police issue, DPR staff cannot be asked to consistently confront those causing the problems on their own. From what I can tell the staff does not feel like they have the back up needed from the police to keep the environment healthy for children and the safe for themselves.
Neighbors and I have not received adequate response from 911 calls. Thus, I have begun to brief the Trinidad Neighborhood Association, ANCs, neighborhood parent's groups, Friends of Joe Cole, local bloggers, and am beginning to knock on doors in the neighborhood to talk with neighbors about the lack of adequate response we have received thus far from the police. We are working towards a stepped up response from both the police, and also from neighbors.
In the meantime I request
1. Patrols on foot, bike, or segway during times when there are many children present - especially between the hours of 3:30-8:30- pm on week-days (unless the school leaders have seen problems during the day) and periodically especially on Sundays when the recreation center is closed and negative activity seems to pick up. Patrols even 2-3 times a week would make a BIG difference.
2.Responses to 911 calls that involve more than just a drive by. The people causing the problems do not react to the cars.
3. A point of contact in addition to 911 we can use to get a timely response, as well as to share information as conditions shift.
4. A prompt response to this request.
Neighbors should not have to confront this situation on our own.
Thank you in advance for your response and your work to keep the beautiful park a place for everyone to enjoy.