Vandalism at Fellsmere parks on the decline, cameras still option

FELLSMERE — With increased vigilance at Fellsmere’s parks after dark, police are seeing a decline to the amount and severity of vandalism. Last year, the vandalism had gotten to the point that the city considered closing the parks and installing security cameras.

Police Chief Scott Melanson said the parks are probably in the best shape than they have been in a long time.

“They look real good,” he said.

But just because the vandalism isn’t as bad as before doesn’t mean the police department has given up on the idea of installing cameras. Not only would the cameras serve as a deterrent, but would also help in catching those responsible, Chief Melanson said.

The problem the department faces, however, is the expense of the cameras. In researching the issue, the police chief found that the cameras he would consider for the job cost between $3,500 and $4,500 each.

There’s no money in the budget currently to buy even one camera.

In order to afford to buy a camera, the police department would have to look to the generosity of the community to make donations, which would be tax deductible.

“That would be a big push,” Chief Melanson said of getting the cameras. “I know everyone’s budget is real stretched right now.”

In the absence of cameras, the police department has called on the residents living near the parks to keep watch and to report anything that looks suspicious.

Chief Melanson said he would like to attribute the decreased damage at the parks to the community’s efforts.

“I hope that’s the case,” he said.

The city has also limited the hours at the parks, closing them at either 10 or 11 p.m. Chief Melanson said that has helped officers to monitor the parks and enforce the rules. However, the city does keep some lights on at the different parks to aid in monitoring.

The officers have also been lenient in enforcing the times, he said, noting that many residents use the parks after hours due to the shifts they work.

“Those eyes out there are probably more effective” than not having anyone at the park in deterring vandals, Chief Melanson said.

Anyone interested in donating to the Fellsmere Police Department for security cameras can contact the Police Department by calling (772) 571-1360.

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