Empower Bradenton police to curtail skakepark misbehavior

December 29, 2012 

The Bradenton Police Department has stationed an observation tower with a camera to deter bad behavior across the street from the Riverwalk Skatepark, which has been mostly from people not using the park but 'hanging out' and causing trouble. Wednesday afternoon there were few people enjoying the park, but officer said Saturday nights can get very busy and that's when there are the most problems. TIFFANY TOMPKINS-CONDIE/Bradenton Herald

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It's a shame troublemakers are descending on Riverwalk's wildly popular skatepark, mostly nonrecreational visitors who clog up the concrete runways by sitting down and hanging out. Skateboarders and bikers apparently get frustrated at the obnoxious misbehavior.

But the Bradenton Police Department has no authority to break up the obstructionists. Last week, Officer Tony Cerniglia asked the City Council to grant police the power to issue trespassing citations on city-owned property and ban violators from the park for a certain amount of time. Repeat offenders could be arrested, too, a stronger deterrent.

That should help solve the problem.

Police commend the skateboarders and bike riders for their courteous and responsible conduct, with some even cleaning up the park after incidents with troublemakers as hundreds of people gather on Friday and Saturday nights. Officers have been forced to close the skatepark on several occasions to disperse crowds after fights broke out.

Police have stationed an observation tower with a camera across the street to discourage misconduct but that's not a permanent solution.

Bradenton's Downtown Development Authority is considering placing cameras at Riverwalk with a recent bid coming in at $39,000. While that's expensive, the city's investment in this new crown jewel must be protected.

Empower police, too, with an ordinance establishing strict rules for the skatepark to prevent bad people from ruining a wonderful place.

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