Removal of Hoops Reduces Disturbance Calls at Area Park - WBAY

Removal of Hoops Reduces Disturbance Calls at Area Park

Updated:

The number of disturbance calls at a Green Bay park is significantly down after drastic changes made a year ago by police. And while not everybody agrees with the plan of action at Fisk Park adjacent to Dousman and Gray Streets, officers say their way has reduced crime, violence and fear from neighbors.

The police captain of the area said after multiple attempts to diffuse disorderly behavior from the people who gathered at the basketball courts last year, they found they weren't effective.

Then, his officers tried something they didn't know was going to work, but surprisingly did. They removed the hoops.

In past years at Fisk Park, when the temperatures warmed up, young people gathered.

One of the hot spots: the basketball courts.

But, Green Bay Police say while some were there to get exercise and have fun, others weren't.

"Large groups of kids were forming. They were fighting. In some cases, there would be multiple people beating up one person," described Bravo District Captain Bill Bongle.

 He said the fights became more numerous.

Then, on June 10, 2013, officers were called to a reported gunshot fired. An investigation revealed connections to drug activity and other weapons offenses.

Bongle responded.

"It was considered the number one priority for this neighborhood," he said.

A five step strategy was implemented, including officers engaging with youth in the neighborhood, weekly visits by the Gang Task Force to build connections with people, and assigning a large number of officers to patrol the area.

But they weren't enough.

"As summer went on, these problems continued to grow," Bongle added.

 Until late July when officers tried something new: Remove the basketball hoops.

Green Bay Pastor L.C. Green, whose grandchildren played basketball at Fisk Park, wondered if the drastic action was necessary.

"You solve problems by not removing things, you solve problems by getting in, talking to people."

But police say removing the hoops was the last ditch effort. And considering what it's done for the community, they have no regrets.

"We were absolutely stunned. It was like you turned off the light switch. And the problems dissipated almost immediately," said Bongle.

One neighbor notices.

"I just watch the park all the time," says Kevin Kramer. "There's no absolutely no problems whatsoever."

 Other neighbors say it's a shame a few bad people can ruin it for everyone else.

"There were good kids who were using those hoops, too, and adults were over there using the hoops. And they lost them. Everybody lost them," says Lynne Jones.

 Bongle says there are other nearby parks where basketball is still allowed, and the department doesn't plan to remove any other hoops.

 The city's park's department is expected to decide in early July whether the hoops will return or stay off indefinitely.

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