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Police Increase Patrols in Celina Parks Because of Sexual Activity
MERCER COUNTY -- Celina is full of beautiful, peaceful, welcoming parks.
"I'm looking for a venue for my wedding," said park goer Kim Keiser. "It's a nice park. It's peaceful. It's out-of-the-way."
But some of these parks are a little too welcoming.
"It's a well-maintained park but there's a lot of homosexual activity here," said Rich Maharg of P&R Disposal.
He helps clean up Celina's parks and says he has seen the activity day and night.
"It's all of the parks it's not just this one," he said. "There's a park called Bunge Park. That's the worst offender of all."
Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey issued a warning Thursday that the Sheriff's Office is increasing patrols in the public parks. This increase will include both marked patrol cars and plain clothes deputies and extends to parks within the City of Celina and all villages as well as parks in unincorporated areas, to include, but not limited to the State Park on West Bank Road, Bunge Park on State Route 29, and Eden Haven Park on Hellwarth Road.
Grey says they've received complaints of sexual activity occurring in public areas.
"These parks are visited by families," said Sheriff Grey. "We will not tolerate public sexual activity or soliciting in the parks. Those activities should be kept in the privacy of your home. Anyone caught engaged in sexual activity or soliciting in the parks, will be arrested and taken to jail, this is your only warning."
Eden Haven Park has homes within walking distance.
"The kids don't go there, not like they used to," said Audrey Siebert who lives next to the park. "There was a car that kept going back there. It would stay for a little bit and go in and out so I finally called the sheriff. The sheriff said that was a pimp."
Maharg says he's recognized some of the guys and knows that a few of them are even married.
"Total disgust," he said.
He said it is even more disgusting because he is always finding condoms in the park.
"Lots of those," he said. "If they use them."
But it doesn't end there.
"There's a big heroin problem in this county so we find a lot of needles," he added.
"I think it's sad because you have kids that want to come to this park," said Keiser. "You have a playground for them to play at. If you want to read or just be by yourself for little while you should have that right without being exposed to something inappropriate."
The public is encouraged to report suspicious activity to the Sheriff's Office or the police department that has jurisdiction about unusual activity observed in the parks. You may report it anonymously to the Sheriff's Office or their tip line, 567-890-8477.
"It is time we take back our community from drugs and deviant behavior," states Sheriff Grey. "It takes all of us working together, we appreciate and need the public's help. Effective immediately, if you are arrested by a deputy sheriff and incarcerated for public sexual activity, your mug shot and a news release will be provided to news outlets. We are providing everyone who engages in this activity fair warning."
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