Craighead Forest Makes a Turn Around

JONESBORO, AR -- Craighead Forest Park quickly gained a bad rep last year after inappropriate sexual behavior was rumored to be lurking around the park. After the park took a huge hit from an undercover sex sting operation last August, Jason Wilkie, Jonesboro's Parks and Recreation Director, says things have really changed.

"Craighead Forest Park has certainly undergone a transformation," says Wilkie.

And it's all a change for the better.

"Some of the abnormal park activity that has taken place out here has been reduced. Some in part to our police force and their patrolling out here," says Wilkie.

On any given day at the park, people are around every corner.

"We're seeing a lot more fitness activities, playing and picnicking in the park. We're seeing a rise in pavilion use and a rise in campground use," says Wilkie.

Wilkie says that while the sexual behavior that was taking place last year was inappropriate for the park, unfortunately it's not that uncommon.

"It's not just homosexual activity that takes place in parks across the country, it's heterosexual activity, drugs. Those kinds of activities take place in rest areas and parks across the country," says Wilkie.

Parks, rest areas, and other similar settings are sometimes thought of as private and therefore sometimes create a haven for unusual or bad activities, but Wilkie says the more people prove that it's not private, the better the chances are of keeping it public.

"We do our best to patrol the parks in the evening and nights and the police departments also help, but the community support of this park and coming out here and using it appropriately is really the best deterrent to abnormal park activity," adds Wilkie.

Park officials and the Jonesboro Police say the reports of inappropriate behavior at the park have drastically decreased since the undercover sex sting operation last August and so have the number of arrests.