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City of Lodi plans to hire part-time police officer to patrol parks

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Posted: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 6:02 am, Tue Jan 8, 2013.

After more than $50,000 of vandalism to Lodi parks and Hutchins Street Square in 2012, the city is planning to hire a part-time police officer to patrol some of Lodi's most valuable assets.

The officer's main focus will be on enforcing rules and preventing vandalism at Lodi Lake Park, said Jeff Hood, director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services.

"It's not only vandalism but people who are damaging the park, and they may not be completely aware of it," Hood said. "The goal is not to punish, although at times that might need to happen. We want to educate park visitors about our rules."

At the lake, the city has had problems with people driving and parking on the grass, which damages the irrigation system. Kayakers and boaters have been using the river bank to remove their boats instead of the Lodi Lake boat launch, which causes increased erosion, Hood said.

Dogs in the Lodi Lake Nature Area are another problem. Though dogs aren't allowed in the nature area, some people ignore that rule.

The dogs can carry canine parvovirus, which harms the foxes that live in the nature area. They can also bring in insects that carry disease. One dog even bit a woman while it was walking on a leash inside the area, according to Hood.

Enforcing those rules will help the city maintain Lodi Lake resources for longer, Hood said.

"It's not just the obvious crimes that we need to address, but also issues that lead to higher park maintenance costs, especially at Lodi Lake," Hood said.

The position will be shared between the Lodi Parks and Recreation department and Public Works. The officer will also be in charge of keeping frequent tabs on the new Lodi Surface Water Treatment Plant, which is located on the west side of the lake.

"That's a major public investment that needs to be protected," he said.

The officer will occasionally visit other Lodi parks, such as Kofu Park Skate Park, where there have been problems with drug and alcohol use in the past.

Hood estimates the officer will work about 1,300 hours a year and cost the city $40,000. He is open to multiple retirees filling the position and sharing hours.

The officer will report to the police department but will focus solely on parks and Public Works concerns.

"The priorities for the position will be different in many respects than a patrol officer," Hood said.

There has not been a full-time park ranger or police officer dedicated to the parks since the early 1990s.

The Lodi Parks and Recreation Commission will hear an update on the position at its meeting at 6 p.m. today at Hutchins Street Square, 125 S. Hutchins St.

Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at maggiec@lodinews.com.

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  • Doug Chaney posted at 1:02 pm on Wed, Jan 9, 2013.

    advocate Posts: 499

    Mr. Bitz, sounds like the affluent neighborhoods are becoming afraid to allow the use of their neighborhood parks to residents from other areas.The city of Lodi lists 26 parks and at least half of them are small enough and on the path of the regular patrol officers and can be easily monitored by them. All of the parks are currently in the patrol districts of LPD and most can be seen from all four sides by driving on only one area street. Why does the city of Lodi give the impression that Lodi city limits is such an expansive area? Why would an additional officer be needed to patrol just the parks? And why public works and the unneeded and unnecessary water treatment plant? The unnecessary and unneeded water treatment plant is required by the federal government standards to be a secure facility at all times to protect the drinking water supply. It stands to reinstate the park ranger position, not just for LLodi Lake, but all parrks in the Lodi city park system. An additional police officer could well be used to keep the inebriated and highly visible drunks from running the streets and sidewalks of downtown Lodi at the venues that serve alcohol, especially those with open seating on public downtown sidewalks and also the crime ridden area adjacent to downtown Lodi on the immediate eastside, including the lounges on Sacramento street in that area. Another bicycle officer would be of great visibility, especially on the eastside neighborhoods from Lockeford street to Tokay street between Church and Cherokee Lane. With the tab again going partly to parks and rec, also known as the bllack hole of debt at Hutchins Square, that sum of money could put the losses at HSS and parks over the million dollar mark once again.

  • roy bitz posted at 9:53 pm on Tue, Jan 8, 2013.

    roy bitz Posts: 489

    Seems to me our current highly trained highly skilled, highly compensated police officers would be charged with this responsibility.
    I realize they cannot be everywhere all the time but then neither can one part-timer.
    This idea makes no sense to me.
    City council members---- what say you?

  • Ed Walters posted at 12:27 pm on Tue, Jan 8, 2013.

    the old dog Posts: 352

    That part time officer, for either his or her safety hopfully will be packing a weapon. In some parts of the park were all the tweekers with their pit bulls hang, a weapon should be manditory. You can never be to safe, and wear gloves that needles cannot get through. A weapon with at least a 10 clip and a radio in case back up is needed. This job is not just a walk in the park.

  • Todd Cronin posted at 12:13 pm on Tue, Jan 8, 2013.

    Todd Posts: 96

    Yeah that's right! Got to keep the,
    "People with dogs and bad attitudes"
    away from the our park!!



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