As the litany of complaints and issues about Denair Park grows among neighboring residents and business owners, one resounding question continues to rise to the surface — what can be done?
It’s the question Turlock City Council members, city staff, and law enforcement are grappling with and one that will be at the forefront of a new task force being formed to address the ongoing nuisances and safety concerns stemming from the park.
One answer might be found in a Turlock security firm that helped rid a Modesto park of a criminal element that had been causing problems for years.
Turlock’s CrimeTek Security used real-time camera monitoring to help transform Kewin Park in Modesto’s La Loma area from the scourge of the neighborhood into a hub of family-friendly activities.
“By installing the camera, the neighborhood was taking ownership of that piece of property,” said CrimeTek owner Ed Esmaili.
Much like Turlock’s Denair Park, Kewin Park in Modesto was plagued by a bevy of nuisance crimes happening in the surrounding neighborhoods. Park structures and facilities were vandalized and destroyed on a regular basis and law enforcement were frequently called to the area for a variety of crimes, including those of a violent nature.
“There were people there after the park closed that were causing a lot of problems,” Esmaili said. “Almost every other day the city had to replace the seats on the swings. Once the camera was installed we saw it was from guys taking their pit bulls down there and training them by having them bite down on the seat and then pulling them up.”
Esmaili said just having the camera installed made an immediate difference at the park.
“Just the presence of the camera made for a drastic cut in the number of people hanging out after hours,” Esmaili said. “Criminals don’t like to work where it is lit up and they are being monitored.”
CrimeTek’s cameras are monitored in real-time by security personnel and are equipped with audio, sirens and strobes. They also record continuously.
“At Kewin Park we can tell people there after hours that the park is closed and they need to move on,” Esmaili said. “In most of the cases they comply.”
In those times when individuals don’t comply, the security guard can trigger the siren on the camera and inform them security personnel and possibly law enforcement are en route.
“That usually takes care of it,” Esmaili said. “It’s a very effective program once you show a presence.”
For the Modesto park, Esmaili donated half the cost of the camera and the city paid the other half. The cost of the monitoring is paid for by the neighborhood association. The price can vary depending on the monitoring time needed, but Esmaili said it typically is 20 to 25 percent of the cost of hiring a full-time security guard to stay on site.
“Real-time monitoring is preventive security,” Esmaili said. “It’s very popular these days because it’s like having a security guard on your property.”