Police investigating Memorial Park vandalism

Incident could renew talk of park security cameras

Contributed photo Shawano police posted a photo of a vandalized shade tarp at the Memoral Park splash pad as they seek help from the public to identify the person or persons responsible.

Shawano police are looking for the person or persons responsible for a vandalism incident at the Memorial Park splash pad last week.

The shade tarp at the new splash pad was repeatedly slashed sometime Thursday night or Friday morning.

Park and Recreation Director Matt Hendricks said he didn’t yet have a cost estimate for the damage.

Meanwhile, Facebook was buzzing last week about a supposed incident of lewd and lascivious behavior that allegedly took place at the splash pad.

A poster on Shawano Let’s Talk About It said a person had bragged about committing the indecent acts at the splash pad, sparking a community discussion that included the question of whether the park should have security cameras installed.

Police Chief Dan Mauel said he was aware of the Facebook posts, but the department has not gotten any direct reports of such an incident occurring.

“We have no official complaints about the incident described,” he said.

Hendricks said there have also been no reports made to the Park and Recreation Department.

“No one’s contacted our office,” he said. “For an event like that, if people know who it is and know what’s going on, I would think the police department would be the first normal contact.”

Hendricks was skeptical about the claim.

“With social media, who knows what’s true and what’s not true?” he said.

The recent vandalism incident at the splash pad, however, was likely to renew discussions that have been going on for years about whether the parks should have security cameras.

The city’s outdoor recreation plan, developed in 2014 under then-Park and Recreation Director Judy Judd, discussed the possibility of installing security cameras at various parks to prevent vandalism or catch those engaging in vandalism.

At present, the city has no security cameras in the park system, but they have been installed at the recreation center.

“It’s been discussed and it keeps coming up every once in a while,” Hendricks said. “I think it will probably be talked about again.”

Hendricks said it has been just within the last couple of years that many of the parks have gotten the fiber connections that would provide the backbone of the security camera system.

“With that infrastructure, it would be an easier step to include cameras,” he said. “We’re stepping towards the direction of being able to do that.”

Hendricks said the level of vandalism activity at the parks is not high.

“In my opinion, it’s not a concerning amount,” he said, “at least what’s reported to us or what we see.”

The vast majority of vandalism is graffiti.

“This summer, we’ve had graffiti on maybe four or five different occasions,” Hendricks said.

Intentional property damage like the splash pad tarp incident is rarer, according to Hendricks.

“This year, I believe we had one or two picnic tables that we believe were intentionally damaged, and we did have damage to one water fountain at Memorial Park,” he said.

As for the splash pad tarp, the police department is asking anyone for information on that vandalism incident to call the department at 715-524-4545, referencing case P18-05951.