WPD gives report on city park safety

Winchester Police Chief Kevin Palmer said he has heard people talk about the city’s parks not being safe.

With a new data entry clerk at the department, WPD decided to look at the numbers.

Between June 1, 2017, and Feb. 28, 2018, Palmer told the Winchester Board of Commissioners officers were in the six city parks — College Park, Community Park, Heritage Park, Massie Ball Park, Melbourne Park and Wiseman Park — a total of 301 times.

Of those, 241 were “officer initiated” calls including foot patrols, extra patrols, investigations and motorist assists.

The remaining 60 calls were for “serious” crimes including fights, assaults, drug activity or terroristic threatening, and “less serious” such as theft, vandalism, trespassing and noise complaints.

“They’re few, they’re far between,” Palmer said. “That’s why we put people in the parks. It’s a crime deterrent.”

In comparison, officers were called to Walmart 491 times in the same time frame, 233 of those are for “serious” or “less serious” crimes, he said.

The statistics, he said, show the department receives 23 times more calls to Walmart than to any of the city parks.

“I’ve yet to have a person come to me and say they don’t feel safe at Walmart,” Palmer said.

The data only includes incidents that were reported to the police department, he said.

The commissioners unanimously approved an emergency change order to the North Main Street storm sewer repair project. The change order nearly triples the cost of the project to $214,555 after contractors found older storm sewer structures under the collapsed line which was the cause for the project.

Winchester City Manager Matt Belcher said it was a situation that developed after contractors began digging on the initial problem.

“The extent of the damage was more than we thought,” Belcher said. “The risk of further damage and a catastrophic collapse was too great.”

The problem surfaced in late March when the street started to crack near a manhole in front of the Winchester Municipal Utilities offices. A storm sewer pipe had collapsed and the water eroded the earth under the street.

The street is expected to be closed for about four more weeks.

In other action, the commissioners:

— canceled the regular meeting on May 1 and rescheduled it for Monday, April 30.

— approved a resolution for a Kentucky Office of Homeland Security grant application to purchase two Segways for the Winchester Police Department.

— approved orders for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to install signs marking the 38th parallel north on Veterans Memorial Parkway, North Maple Street and Bypass Road.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0051.

email author More by Fred