August 23, 2006 - Posted at 5:23 p.m. CDT
JONESBORO, AR -- It was just last week the Jonesboro Police Department was on a mission to clean up some of the notorious activities and the reputation of the Craighead Forest Park. The JPD's efforts have had an immediate and lasting effect on keeping out unwanted park visitors and are helping bring back the laughter of children.
"It really wasn't a good child environment. There were a lot of older people and not enough things for them to do," said parent Lou Anne Passmore.
It's the first time Passmore has felt comfortable enough to bring her four-year-old son Trevor to the park.
"We quit coming out on the Fourth of July and we've quit coming out the last few years because of problems they've had out here," said Passmore.
Problems that are quickly disappearing...Just a few weeks ago, the public bathrooms would have been a hot spot for sexual activities at the park. But after an undercover investigations and intense media scrutiny, it appears as though things have finally cooled off.
"This is not the same scenario that we had out here last week, so I hope that that same trend will continue and our operations had some effect on that kind of activity that we were targeting," said JPD Police Chief Mike Yates.
JPD arrested four men last week for public sexual indecency. Yates says word may be out police are patrolling the area as traffic has lightened considerably, but officers are still keeping an eye out for suspicious activity.
"We have a list of people that we are looking into that we've videoed or spotted out here before so we are going to keep an ongoing surveillance list like that going," said Yates, "I really expected to have some activity of some sort, but it has really, really slowed down lot. And from what we see, it just appears to be normal park use."
And for first timers like Trevor...his mom is just thankful they'll have an excuse to come back.
"That helped to know that the police are actually out here doing something and maybe discouraging that kind of thing from going on," said Passmore.