Bridge Street resident testifies to problems along park's trails

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: CARI HACHMANN - Police aim to reduce crime in and around Fairview Woods Park between Bridge Street and Northeast Halsey.As summer approaches, the Fairview Police Department has launched a new “Volunteer Park Patrol Program” aimed at reducing crime in neighborhood parks.

The pilot program is an offshoot of the city’s Neighborhood Watch Program.

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: CARI HACHMANN - Inside Fairview Woods.“The true essence of community policing is local law enforcement partnering with the community to solve problems and fight crime,” said Ken Johnson, Fairview police chief. “With Park Patrol added to the Neighborhood Watch Program, it extends the ability to keep crime from moving into the rest of the neighborhood.”

Johnson is specifically asking for volunteers to help patrol Fairview Woods Park, which has had problems recently and over the past decade.

The 8-acre park with an extensive system of meandering trails through forest and along wetlands is located in the 23000 block of Bridge Street not from Northeast Halsey Street.

Several neighborhood homes and an apartment complex border the park.

At Fairview’s City Council meeting Wednesday, April 3, Johnson described a recent incident at Woods Park where two young people allegedly shot a BB gun or pellet gun at the windows of a nearby home.

“We believe they were shooting ornaments in front of windows, but nonetheless it has caused concern for folks in and around Fairview Woods Park,” the chief said.

Councilor Lisa Barton Mullins said she spoke with the people who had their windows shot at, and ensured them the city would take action.

She also recalled a 2008 incident in the same area, where a resident on Northeast 229th Court (near Bridge Street) had windows blown out with a shotgun.

“I don’t think anybody should have to live with that kind of fear,” Barton Mullins said.

Shawn Stanfill lives on Bridge Street. His house sits at one of the park’s trailheads.

Since he’s lived there, the retired military sergeant (he specialized in armored cavalry) has been in constant battle with vandals on the path.

Shotgun bullets rained through two of his distant neighbors’ homes. Five or six residents have had their windows broken out. Trees in the forest are continuously coated in grafitti. Thefts. Break-ins. A resident’s Jeep on Bridge Street was set ablaze and destroyed.

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: CARI HACHMANN - Shawn Stanfill has been keeping his eye out for suspicious behavior on the path near his house on Bridge Street.Stanfill happens to be a security specialist for the federal government who works from home. The wooden memorial gazebo he built alongside his house to honor war veterans is equipped with video cameras (one camera is hidden) and decorated with a cow skull with red lights for eyes that illuminate during the night to scare off intruders.

Stanfill also has sensors directed at the path that alert him when anyone is on the trail.

“Once I caught a guy. He was spray-painting my house,” said Stanfill, who also is a Vietnam combat veteran and later saw his troops go off to Iraq and Afghanistan before his retirement in 2002.

Only after Stanfill had the intruder in a submission hold did he realize “he was just a big kid.”

Stanfill had him on the ground doing push-ups when police arrived.

The sergeant wasn’t interested in pressing charges.

“I wanted him repainting my house,” he said.

Stanfill believes most vandals are disenfranchised youths, who instead of using the park as an outlet, could benefit from an after-school boys’ club or mentor program.

With two-bedrooms starting at $775, Stanfill said the Fairview Oaks Apartment complex, which borders on the park, has few amenities for teens.

Taking a stroll through the park, Stanfill sees one of his neighbors walking his two dogs.

On his walks, the man said it’s not unusual for him to see drug deals happening near the park’s trailheads and people sitting along the outer edge of the park drinking alcohol.

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: CARI HACHMANN - A tree that was covered in graffiti in the park has permanent markings.Nor is it unusual to find syringes, condoms, and other trash along the trails.

Stanfill, who has lived on Bridge Street for about 10 years, said some vandalism has slowed, “but not much.”

After the shotgun incident, the city responded. The police got involved and the city also made efforts to clean up the trails.

A herd of goats was brought in to chomp down invasive ivy in the forest. The shotgun suspect was never found.

The neighbor’s house that was hit has been targeted three times, the most recent being the BB (or pellet) gun incident.

Through the volunteer park patrol program, local police aim to increase visibility and presence in park, described by Chief Johnson as “large” and “isolated.”

Stanfill said police can only do so much with limited time and resources.

“Collectively, I think the neighborhood tries to watch out,” he said.

While the program will specifically target Fairview Woods Park, police plan to organize more park patrols this summer for all city parks, of which there are 25.

Police also plan to bump up patrol during the warmer months.

}Volunteers will wear lime green vests labeled as “volunteer parks patrol” and will work in pairs. They will be asked to stroll through the park at night and as often as possible, the chief said.

“That presence alone I think will have a great impact on crime prevention,” Johnson said.

Volunteers will be eyes and ears only for the police, and are not supposed to make contact if an incident occurs.

Installing video surveillance cameras was an idea that came up during the council meeting, but nixed by the chief. He said cameras are expensive, and often provide little return due to poor quality images.

The city is already working with a few residents in the Bridge Street area, but volunteers are still in short supply.

Barton Mullins said there is a path that branches off from a main trail to one of the homes that was fired on. The homeowner requested that bushes be planted across the path to deter people from walking into that area.

The mayor agreed to reactivate a committee that was formed about a year ago to work with Bridge Street residents on safety issues at the park.

The committee, which apparently didn’t get much done when it was started, plans to work on installing bushes and moving one of the path’s more problematic trailheads.

Councilors Steve Prom and Barton-Mullins agreed to help on the committee.

As for the sergeant, his cameras are on 24/7.

“I own the night,” he said.

If you are interested in volunteering to patrol the Fairview Woods Park, call Detective Eric Flener, the Fairview Police Department crime prevention coordinator, at 503-674-6201 or send him an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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