Columbus Police park patrol program praised by residents


COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Columbus Police have launched a new Safe Parks Initiative which will increase patrols and officer engagement throughout the city’s parks.

“So this is part of that reimagining police, that level of accountability that the community has asked us for,” said Sgt. James Fuqua, public information officer for the Columbus Division of Police. “That we are listening, and we are using our resources to do that.”

The Safe Park detail will be made up of around 30 officers who were already part of Columbus Police’s community response team.

Now, these officers will be out patrolling and securing the city’s parks, all while continuing their responsibilities of engaging and interacting with the public.

And Columbus residents are glad to hear it.

“It’ll ease the tension between the community and the police, with everything that’s going on,” said Columbus resident Sean Johnson.

“Yeah, I think it’s definitely needed, especially with the rise in violence that we see on a daily basis,” said Columbus resident Chris Cook. “A lot of our youth are being killed regularly.”

In the past two months, two young women, Olivia Kurtz and Makenzi Ridley, both lost their lives to gun violence at two separate parks and rec locations in Columbus.

Fuqua said police plan to increase their presence at as many of these locations as necessary.

“We’re just going to take our officers to park where they’re most needed, so if it’s a quality-of-life issue, crime, or people just want to see more of a presence there, that’s where we’re going to take them,” he said.

None of the officers involved in this park detail will be pulled from patrol, and they will mostly be out between the early afternoon and late evening hours.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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