Friday, October 10, 2008

The State Finds Its Motivation, but It Never Seemed to Be in the Attack

A couple of days ago NewsChannel5 reported on the installation of new emergency call boxes at Bicentennial Mall State Park, and the message seemed to be that state parks officials had these designs in place all along:

In September 2007, a homeless man raped a woman near the amphitheater at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park.

The attack started a yearlong plan to increase security.
Oh, really? If the attack motivated a yearlong plan to increase security, then why two months after the attack did the State Parks Head Honcho, Jim Fyke indicate to me in a phone call that changes were not in the plans, that emergency call boxes were out of the question, and that I was the only person asking for changes in the park? Here's part of my November 2007 report on that phone call:

While he asked me what I thought his office should do, the phone call quickly degenerated into me throwing out ideas so that he could shoot them down ....

I asked him how many people would have to be raped before the problem became significant enough to warrant a change in overnight security measures. He told me that as far as he knew I was the only one who had concerns about overnight security at Bicentennial Mall. He said that no one else was complaining to him about it, so others must be satisfied with park management ....

One of the things that I tried to iterate to Mr. Fyke was that I did not believe that staffing rangers all night at the park was necessarily the answer. I suggested a phone kiosk or security camera as a couple of ideas that came immediately to my mind. (I had to explain to him what I meant by an "emergency kiosk," which seems odd to me given that he is the professional vested with the security of our public spaces). He took two shots at the kiosk. First, he asked rhetorically, "And what if the phone gets continually ripped out." The answer seemed pretty self-evident to me: "You replace it" ....

Second, he asked, "So, are we supposed to put phones in big parks like Warner, too?" I suggested to him that hopefully he works with the neighbors around Warner to come up with the best solutions to fit their particular concerns in their unique context rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach to security.
That last exchange is particularly interesting, given that the NewsChannel5 report spun the Bicentennial Mall installation as the "first," as if this park is on the cutting edge of security to come.

Well, then, I'm glad I threw it out to Mr. Fyke as an option.

Here's NewsChannel5's report, which also claims that when they tried to test the boxes, dispatchers had trouble locating the signal (that's no good!):

HT: Joel B.


  1. I'd like to personally thank you and Freddie for these boxes. 5K seems like a bargain to me...I guess Mr. Fyke had other plans for the money, perhaps. But, as far as I'm concerned, they should be in every park. Period.

  2. I'd like to thank you and Freddie for these boxes. Personally, I think 5K is a bargain for each box. I guess maybe Mr. Fyke had different plans with that money on his budget...I dunno. IMHO, they should be available at every state park. Period.