Columbus considering $500K for park lights, cameras following fatal shootings

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Following recent violence in Columbus parks, the city is looking for ways to make the parks safer.

Four shootings in less than a month – Nafzger and Saunders parks on April 23; Westgate Park on May 4; and Weinland Park on May 14 – have resulted in three deaths and an 8-year-old being injured.

Now, Columbus City Council is set to vote on funding for more cameras and lights in certain parks.

The ordinance council will consider Monday evening states violence at city parks has increased over the last year and there is a need to immediately install temporary lighting and camera systems at the parks.

Columbus’ parks are supposed to be places for families to have fun, but recently, some have been crime scenes.

“Playground, jungle gyms, swings; not fisticuffs, stabbings, and shootings,” said Columbus resident La’Won Sellers. “That don’t go with parks.”

Sellers grew up going to Weinland Park and now he and his wife Tamiea run a youth sports program there.

“They are supposed to be sanctuaries of peace where people just come to relax, walk their dog, play with their kids, not acts of negativity or violence,” Sellers said.

According to the ordinance, the first 25 places for the mobile camera and lighting units have been identified by the city’s police department with input from the recreation and parks department and neighborhood residents.

The ordinance states the city, through the director of public safety, would enter into a rental agreement with Smart Rentals, LLC for the security systems at the cost of $500,000. The ordinance does not state how long the agreement would be for.

Columbus Councilmember Emmanuel Remy is chairperson of council’s Public Safety Committee. He said if passed, the ordinance will be part of a bigger effort to make sure people feel good about coming to city parks.

“We want to make sure people understand this is a safe place to come and people can enjoy their parks throughout the summer and throughout the year and this is just one of the tools we’re going to make sure the division has to accomplish that goal,” Remy said.

“I’m for it,” Seller said of the ordinance. “More lights, more cameras, lessen the chances of crime.”

Columbus police are expected to be on hand for Monday’s meeting to address the plan. The meeting begins at 5 p.m.

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