John Willoughby: Greene Publishing, Inc.
The City of Madison Public Works Department has been noticing willful acts of vandalism at Lanier Park over the course of the last year to one-year-and-a-half and Madison City Manager Jerome Wyche is asking for the public's help to ensure park safety by notifying authorities of suspicious activity.
According to Wyche, subject(s) are going into the park, breaking into and shutting off the park's electrical source which supplies power to cameras, allowing for park monitoring. “Not only is the exposure to electricity dangerous but the capability to monitor a real situation is lost,” said Wyche. “The City of Madison has gone through great pain to upgrade the park and improve the quality of life for citizens and agencies that choose to utilize the park.”
In recent years, Wyche states that the City of Madison has applied for and received a Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program (FRDAP) Grant for $50,000, which allowed the City to implement upgrades to park facilities and security.
“An advanced system of technology and its immediate identification, recording and transmission capability has been implemented that will positively identify vandals in real time, alert certain officials and help keep crime and vandalism low in Lanier Park,” said Wyche. He also states that if persons are identified through the monitoring process and positive proof is captured, the charge of criminal mischief will be pursued, with the added responsibility to pay for any damage caused.
Public Works Director David Floyd mentioned that the damage to the electrical box repeatedly has cost the City approximately $4,000 to fix over the time these incidents have been occurring.
According to Florida Statute 806.13, criminal mischief resulting in damages of $1,000 or greater, or if there is interruption or impairment of a business operation or public communication, transportation, supply of water, gas or power or other public services which costs $1,000 or more in labor and supplies to restore, is a third-degree felony.
The City of Madison requests citizens to help keep recreational parks and surrounding areas safe and free of vandalism by saying something if you see something. If you notice any suspicious activity anywhere in the City of Madison or are made aware of suspicious activity, contact the Madison Police Department at (850) 973-5077 or Madison County Communications at (850) 973-4001.