Police presence keeps crime low at MetroParks

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Families took time to enjoy the view Wednesday at Mill Creek MetroParks.

“I just wish it was warmer,” said Tricia Koonse.

Despite an incident in Warren on Monday in which a 14-year-old boy was assaulted while walking on the bike trail, Tricia and her husband, Scott, both said they always feel safe coming to Mill Creek MetroParks.

Warren teen attacked on bike trail.

“I want any child to be safe at a park and it’s disturbing to me to know that happened,” Koonse said.

After the incident that left the boy naked and bruised at a Warren bike trail, people are now looking to the MetroParks police to keep them safe.

“It’s important for us to set the tone early that we’re visible and that we’re proactive and people see us in the park,” said Mill Creek MetroParks Police Chief Jim Willock.

Crime statistics inside the MetroParks system in Mahoning County are much lower than many other parts of the area, which Willock attributes to a 24-hour police presence.

He said there has only been one reported assault on the bike trails in the past two-and-half-years. But, with summer around the corner and the incident at the Warren bike trail, officers are working to make sure people stay safe.

“Our number one mission for the MetroParks is safety. We patrol the park quite a bit and we patrol both bike trails,” Willock said. “We have very few personal crimes, assaults, things like that.”

Officers utilize different vehicles to patrol the park, which is something people have noticed.

“We bring the dogs up here and we have seen the bike up here once or twice,” Koonse said.

Even as crime remains low at the park, Willock said they still face challenges.

“Everybody is trying to stretch the tax dollar these days and we do our best to get the best bang for our buck and have a presence to make sure our visitors feel safe,” he said.

He said park police deal mostly with property damage.

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