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Crime data drives citizen action to take back historic park
CINCINNATI (Deb Dixon) -- Historic Stanbery Park was a gift from the Stanbery family in 1940.
It's in the heart of Mt. Washington and has been a place where the community gathers for sledding and events such as pumpkin chucking in the fall. Now, there will be a new community event. This one designed to send a message to the druggies who have been selling and using along the extensive hiking trails; hiding among the acres of woodlands.
In August 2014, a 24-year-old man was found dead on a trail from a heroin overdose. The needle was still in his arm. Data of overdoses in a quarter mile radius around the park showed an alarming number of overdoses so far in 2014 and nuisance crime such as burglaries and thefts. The kind of crimes addicts commit to get quick money.
"The data is overwhelming," said Mt. Washington resident Katie Donohue. "We need to get the park back, take control of the park. These people are running us out of the park, we don't want this."
Police Captain Jeff Butler assigned more patrols in and around the park. Some will be undercover and will help make drug arrests. He said already crime has dropped.
"The goal is to restore the park to the neighborhood. It's been a gathering place, a symbol of the community. We want to take it back to its Mayberry days (referring to the simple days depicted in the TV series Andy Griffith). Crime occurs where criminals are comfortable. When people can see them, it makes them too uncomfortable to hang around."
And that was the point of Wednesday night events at Stanbery Park organized by a new group called Stanbery Park Action Committee. Neighbors gather to see the elementary school's jump rope team, play corn hole and leave sidewalk chalk drawings on the sidewalks. The new group hopes word about the community night spreads. The belief is, more people will send a powerful message and help reclaim the park.
Resident Joe Zehren said, "Come out. Please come out. Make it your park."
Not their park.
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