Veterans Memorial Park ups security
- March 5, 2015
- / Marketta Davis, pnj.com - Photos, Tony Giberson
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In light of last year's Veterans Memorial Park vandalism, the Park Foundation has contracted a private company for security patrols that will begin over the next couple of days, according to Foundation president, Capt. W.A. "Butch" Hansen.
"We've made improvements with the park, particularly with the new kiosk," Hansen said. "So we said, we need to look at better security for the park."
In 2008, the Purple Heart Memorial monument was spray painted, then was vandalized again in December 2013 when the monument was pushed over and damaged.
About six months later, Hansen said, there was another incident in which some of the statues in the park were desecrated by paintball guns, including the kiosk.
In both incidents, the damages weren't significant and were able to be repaired.
"Since last July, we've been looking earnestly at different systems and methods," Hansen said.
"We've looked at camera systems and additional lighting systems, and how we could better monitor activity and discourage activities in the park that detract from its purpose and make it a less appealing place to visit."
Hansen said folks in the nearby Aragon Court area feel secure and he doesn't think safety is an issue in the area.
Veterans Memorial Park Foundation President Butch Hansen makes a security check on the downtown Pensacola park Wednesday afternoon. The park’s board of directors of voted to accept the proposal by a private company for security patrols of the park. The foundation has contracted the company to perform this function and anticipates the patrols will be in addition to patrols by volunteers interested in the security of the park.
"We're just trying to preserve (the park) and the assets that our donors and citizens of the community have erected there," Hansen said.
"Our job is to provide stewardship — keep it up and keep it nice — and continue to improve it. So with those incidents that we've had, we want to be proactive."
In January, the police department attended one of the Foundation meetings to discuss the limitations of a camera system. The conclusion was that because of the size of the park, there wouldn't be enough lighting for cameras to be effective, so they wanted to explore other options.
Shortly after the meeting, Signal 88 Security of Pensacola, a veteran owned security franchise, offered their services and the board of directors voted to accept the company's proposal.
Signal 88 Security owner and Marine Corps veteran Reggie Bruster said it was great to have the opportunity to assist the Park Foundation in keeping up the property, especially being a veteran himself.
"We're pretty proactive in trying to get out and help businesses that need help," Bruster said. "And it's a neat thing to be helping the Park Foundation because they do such a good job in taking care of the park that honors our veterans and their service to our country."
Signal 88 Security uses a patrol vehicle, GPS and video tracking systems, and laptop computers. They also have verifiable service so the Foundation will know when patrol officers are at the park and when patrols are completed.
Bruster said they will be patrolling the park randomly throughout the night, along with park volunteers who will be providing additional patrols.
The Foundation declined to give specific dollar figures, but said they will be paying a "few hundred dollars" a month for the service, Hansen said.