City of Jacksonville


Parks Task Force

Safety Subcommittee

Minutes of October 12, 2004 Meeting

I. Date, Time, Place, Attendees

A. Date, Time, Place of Meeting

Date of Meeting: October 12, 2004

Place: City Hall, Mayor's Conference Room

Time: 5:15 – 6:45 PM

B. Attendees

      1. Coen Purvis, Chair
      2. Bob Baughman
      3. Barbara Goodman
      4. Anna Dooley
      5. Denise Ostertag
      6. Phil Bruce
      7. John Herbst
      8. Elizabeth Kohler

II. The Meeting

Chairman Purvis welcomed the group to the initial meeting of the Parks Task Force Public Safety sub-committee. He began the meeting by handing out a packet of papers that he had collected related to safety in parks. He reminded the group that speaker Peter Harnik discussed that while many factors of crime are beyond the reach of many Parks and Recreation Departments (i.e. poverty, drug and alcoholic use, demographics, neighborhood characteristics, etc.), safety from physical hazards can be influenced by planning well for park locations & design, presence of uniform personnel, presence of amenities, programs and activities, and ultimately by the number of park users at various times of the day.

He also reviewed that the Master Recreation Plan for the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Entertainment (DPRE) included a Park User Survey and that safety and upgrading of facilities were the top two ranked concerns. Additionally, in the Parks Task Force Public Comment Sessions, safety was a reoccurring theme.

The Planning Division of DPRE has been working on a report of park safety in other cities compared to Jacksonville. Chairman Purvis asked Bob Baughman to provide a copy at next meeting of the Safety sub-committee meeting.

1. DPRE lacks crime data for systematic tracking of high crime areas in or adjacent to / near parks.

2. Sheriff Rutherford is ready to do what it takes to ensure park safety

Example = CSO/Park Ranger concept (see below)

Mr. Bob Baughman overviewed several pre-emptive steps being taken by DPRE:

1. 35 parks where Jacksonville Sheriff's Office (JSO) officers are living onsite. The majority are JSO owned homes.

a. Program is marginal- had problems with Officers

SPAN style='mso-list: Ignore'&>b. Officers often do not want to be accessible 24 hours/ day

c. Host camper program at Hanna Park works because rental police secure the entrance at night. P&>

2. Initiative to codify park rules (via ordinance) so they can be enforced by JSO

a. DPRE is currently working with the Office of General Counsel to create a new section to Chapter 664.

b. This also ties into the drive to standardize park rules and reduce the sign clutter in parks.

c. For example, one of the biggest security problems in parks currently is after hours use - Such an ordinance would allow JSO to ticket for trespassing

d. Chairman Purvis suggested that DPRE compare the draft ordinance with the rules of organizations such as the National Parks Service (NPS). He also recommended that DPRE work with Neptune Beach Atlantic Beach Baldwin , NPS, Florida Parks Service (FPS), the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD), the Division of Forestry, etc. to receive input and have the entities review the draft ordinance.

e. Hunting/ use of firearms on federal lands was an example of an issue that needs to be reviewed by OGC for constitutionality.

3. DPRE is working with JSO to have dedicated officers for parks. In fiscal year 2004/05, there is one JSO officer funded out of the DPRE budget and that officer will be assigned to parks duty. The officer will help also to analyze the history of crimes in parks, to keep records of continued crimes in parks, and to measure the success of the program.

4. Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CEPTED)

Commissioner Barbara Goodman of the National Park Service is working to set up a meeting with all of the agencies involved in security, safety, and rules enforcement in the Timucuan Preserve. Agencies include: Coast Guard, JSO (including Marine section), NPS, FPS, US Fish and Wildlife, State Fish and Wildlife, and SJRWMD. Chairman Purvis asked Commissioner Goodman and Elizabeth Kohler to work together to develop a list outlining the security responsibilities of these agencies in the Timucuan Preserve.

When conversation turned to where park fines would be deposited/ utilized, Mr. John Herbst indicated the following: 'Article V changed the nature of county/municipal ordinances. County fines are now swept to the state. Municipal ordinance fines stay with the City. However, I'm not sure that our municipal ordinances would be enforceable in the 4 other municipalities in the county, whereas county ordinances would. Which you choose depends on whether county-wide uniformity is preferred to receiving the revenue stream.' The group agreed to a recommendation that fines generated in parks be deposited into a parks trust fund.

Chairman Purvis asked that the group discuss further the new program being developed by Sheriff Rutherford - the Community Service Officer (CSO) Program.

1. Training ground for new JSO officers

a. High school graduates

b. Five year commitment. JSO pays for college tuition

c. Make commitment to stay with program until are full time officers, with arresting power

2. CSO could serve to create a security presence in parks. One of the rotations in the training process could be parks, and the CSO would learn skills specific to security in parks. DPRE could formalize this into an Memorandum of Agreement with JSO. Some of the CSO would love this portion of the training and it would be a great recruiting tool. Additionally all who went through the training would have some knowledge of security specific to parks. And, one or many might love the concept of security specific to parks so much that would choose as career focus. The CSO would communicate findings to the park keeper (a concept recommended by the governance sub-committee).

3. School Resource Officers as model to research.

The group then discussed the concept of having Rangers, internal to the Parks Department, who would be security and land mangers. Ms. Kohler suggested consideration of preservation property management as a public safety issue, in relation to poaching, wild fires, etc. Rangers educated in preservation park management would be able to recognize signs of poaching, etc., but would then need to have a working relationship with JSO that would result in a quick response when needed. Otherwise the Ranger would need to have law enforcement abilities, but the sub-committee was doubtful about recommending this approach.

The group agreed that it would be best to have a combination of all of the above ideas: Rangers skilled in land/ security management/ education, the CSO program, the dedicated JSO officer to parks program, the CEPTED program, park keepers, etc. Barbara Goodman raised a safety issue concern for park rangers being seen as law enforcement. This issue and the role of the Park Ranger will be discussed at the next meeting.

Chairman Purvis called for the next meeting to be held on October 28th at 3:00 p.m. in the Mayor's Office conference room. The meeting was adjourned.