By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
TAYLOR – Two teen girls were arrested and charged with damage to public property Oct. 13 after residents upset by vandalism at recently renovated Northwest Park helped police officers locate them.
Northwest Park, south of Van Born Road, between Inkster and Beech Daly roads, was recently renovated, with the installation of new equipment and other park improvements.
The girls, who were later found with markers in a purse, allegedly defiled the outdoor ping pong table and chess boards with graffiti, which included obscenities.
When concerned residents reported the vandalism to police officers, the two attempted to flee, but residents helped police find them, after which they were arrested and taken to the Taylor police station, where they were booked and held in juvenile jail cells until their respective parents arrived to facilitate their release.
At the Oct. 15 City Council meeting, Mayor Rick Sollars thanked resident Eddie Warner, who, along with his girlfriend, Leah Fisher, reported the vandalism and provided police with information that helped them arrest the suspects.
“Over the weekend, we had an unfortunate incident at Northwest Park, where a couple of juveniles decided to take a Sharpie and write a lot of very graphic things on the brand new playscape, and the checker and chess board,” Sollars said. “Eddie was vigilant enough to track them down and call the police department and helped us detain them, and we are grateful for your eyes and ears.
“We talk about it in every staff meeting – for us to change the culture in that park, it is going to take an entire community to help pay attention, and for that we say thank you.”
Council Chairman Tim Woolley added his praise to the mayor’s comments.
“That is great to hear, because from the first day we put the lights up, we had some vandalism,” Woolley said. “I think it is looking very good, and it has definitely exceeded my expectations.
“I think it’s great. I see people every day walking (there) when I am coming to and from work, and it is people like you, who are going out there and seeing that stuff and reporting it, because the more eyes and ears that are out there, it is going to prevent that.”
Councilman Charley Johnson said Warner has helped the city in a similar manner in the past.
“I am thinking we need a hook back there to put his cape on,” Johnson said, amid appreciative laughter.
Sollars said the Police Department can’t be at the park all the time, and while they have stepped up patrols in the area, it will take the entire community to help prevent vandalism.
After the council meeting, Warner said the girls who vandalized the park “made some bad choices.”
“They were writing graffiti on some of the permanent structures there,” Warner said. “There are checker board tables, a ping pong table. We live nearby, and I go through just to make a presence known, that the things that went on, we are not going to tolerate it.”
Warner said the graffiti was inappropriate for a children’s playground.
“With the money that the city has just put into there, it showed a whole lack of respect,” he said. “We just don’t need that.”
Fisher said parents who were taking their young children to the playscape had confronted the girls earlier to express their opposition to the girls’ casual and belligerent attitude toward the graffiti.
“It was just a bad situation, a bad choice,” Warner said.
Fisher said the girls’ arrest may make other teens aware of what behavior will not be tolerated at Northwest Park.
Warner said city employees were at the park early the next morning to remove the graffiti.
Fisher said the park recently was improved.
“The big deal about this is the park’s brand new,” she said. “They just put in these new structures, and it was just completed. It’s been a long time coming, and it is really nice.”