DE PERE, Wis. (WFRV) – A proposed policy in De Pere could ban some people from its city parks. The idea is aimed at keeping the park system safe – from those who are determined to cause trouble.
On a sunny day, the playground at Voyageur Park is packed, filled with people like Talia Frinak.
“We like to take our son to the park, and I would like to see the parks stay safe, clean, family friendly,” said Frinak.
And that’s a feeling shared by Captain Chad Opicka from the De Pere Police Department.
“You can hear the birds chirping, you can hear the kids playing in the background. That’s what we want. We want people to come down here. We want people to enjoy the parks,” said Opicka.
But this past year Opicka says De Pere’s parks have been experiencing problems, like this vandalism at the De Pere Riverwalk and a host of various other issues in Voyageur Parks’ parking lots.
“We also have individuals that come here, and they fight with each other and those are the behaviors we don’t want in our parks,” said Opicka.
“They’ve shared a number of different things, from disorderly to underage drinking, cars squealing tires, things like this,” said De Pere Alderperson Dean Raasch.
To discourage those activities a new policy has been proposed, one that allows police to now ban lawbreakers from city parks. Under the proposed policy an individual could be banned from the park for six months initially and up to one year if caught in a park, during the initial ban.
“It just got to the point where we had to make a decision to do something and unfortunately, we have to do that, because some people can’t learn to play by the rules,” Raasch said.
Opicka says each year roughly ten people are removed from the parks. Under this policy, those banned by police can appeal, first to the parks director and next to the parks board.
“It’s a way for us to send a message to people who are abusing the system,” said Raasch.
“I think that’s a good idea. I think it’s good to try and curb as many issues that could arise,” said Frinak.
“We want peaceful parks, and this is definitely one of those things,” said Opicka.
De Pere City Council is expected to vote on the policy this coming Wednesday.