Police work to clean up park near new charter school - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Police work to clean up park near new charter school

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MEMPHIS, TN -

By Ben Watson - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Visitors to the park in Court Square will see people enjoying themselves. Police said things are very different there from several months ago.

"The park, several months back, was inundated with undesirable elements," said Col. Robert Shemwell with the Memphis Police Department. "People coming and drinking, fighting and urinating."

All the problems were a surprise to officials at the new charter school that opened earlier this year on the edge of the park.

"Our problem was we wanted students to learn on the inside as well as the outside," said Elana Ragsdale with New Consortium of Law and Business Charter School.

School officials said problems in the park prevent them from taking students there for nature classes and other outdoor events. Police found out and moved to clean up the park.

"What we decided to do is a partnership with Center City Commission Public Safety," said Shemwell.

That partnership led to a uniform bike patrol and a beefed up police presence in the area. Police also said surveillance cameras in the park have been a big help. Officers said ever since they put the cameras in the park, crime has gone down.

"I would say those cameras probably reduced crime and the undesirable element by at least 50 to 60 percent," said Shemwell.

The school and others in the neighborhood called the presence of officers a blessing.

"Now that the change has happened, we really feel like the police are really protecting us with their presence," said Ragsdale.

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