COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – While it’s the last weekend of summer, a program Columbus put in place for the warmer months is not ending.
The program, which started back in May, is the city’s effort to keep its parks safe.
The 2022 City Parks Special Operation was originally planned to end at the beginning of September, but last week, Columbus City Council voted to extend it to the end of the month.
By the middle of May of this year, there were four shootings at city parks in the span of three weeks.
As part of the plan, the city and police department approved a plan to allow officers to sign up to work overtime shifts at city parks on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights.
The weather has been nice this weekend, the first since the extension, and parents said they are glad to see the plan still in place.
“I think that’s great because it’s still hot out, they’re still needed,” said resident Monissa Davidson, who lives near Weinland Park. “When it’s hot out, it’s nice out, people are out and they do what they want to do versus when it’s cold, you don’t want to come outside, so hopefully there’s no problems during the winter.”
An 8-year-old girl was shot in Weinland Park back in May, the fourth shooting at a city park in a three-week span. About a week later, the City Parks Special Operation was approved.
“I hope they extend it again as well, at least until closer towards winter time because we will still see people out here active and I think it brings a lot of people security for that, too, as well,” said resident Demetreus Moorer-Saunders.
“I think it’s a good thing, I don’t think too many people who would think that was a bad thing,” Moore-Saunders added.
After implementing this program, crime numbers in areas near the parks went down.
“I think having their visibility in the parks has been enough of a deterrent to actually not witness crime happen,” said Columbus City Councilmember Emmanuel Remy, chairperson of council’s Public Safety Committee, this past week. “That’s why we have our camera and light systems as well.”
“You are going there to enjoy, so when you see the police around, you know, something is, like, I feel protected, so it is good to have the police around,” said resident Mulualem Ufe.
According to the ordinance passed by council, the safety plan will last at least through next weekend.