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Efforts to curb crime at Wetlands Park showing results, officials say

Updated April 7, 2017 - 10:38 am

Crime has diminished at the Clark County Wetlands Park since the creation of a coalition last year to combat the issue, but there is more work to be done, Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said during a briefing Thursday afternoon.

“We want to make sure our young people are protected and are not participating in things that are illegal,” Giunchigliani said at the media briefing outside the park’s nature center in east Las Vegas. “The trail users and outdoor lovers deserve a safe, clean park.”

In September 2015, a 17-year-old boy was shot after a party at the park erupted into a fight.

“This is unacceptable and needs to be prevented,” Metropolitan Police Department Lt. John Liberty said, noting the prevalence of unsanctioned parties on park grounds in the past.

The park is heading in the right direction, he said, with a 50 percent decrease in violent crime over the past year, in addition to reduced graffiti, vandalism and calls to police.

Crimes such as graffiti, vandalism and under-age drinking over the past few years prompted Clark County officials to implement new security measures, which include building 7 miles of steel fencing along park land that abuts Hollywood Boulevard.

Other efforts include the creation of two new park police positions at the Wetlands Park and increased patrolling by K9 and air patrol units.

More than 25 agencies are involved in the effort, Liberty said, including Metro police, the Clark County Park Police, the Bureau of Land Management, Nevada Highway Patrol, and the Outside Las Vegas Foundation.

The cost of cleaning the park in 2015 was $187,000, which included $110,000 for a restroom destroyed by an explosion.

In 2016, park cleanup cost the county $53,000.

“It’s too much, but we’ve made a dent in it,” Giunchigliani said.

The county commissioner also invited members of the public to join her and her staff in a spring cleanup at the park from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday.

Though appreciatiative of the progress made to date, Giunchigliani said the issue needs to be taken seriously.

“It’s not just destructive, stupid beer-drinking,” she said. “It’s criminal.”

Contact Brooke Wanser at bwanser@reviewjournal.com. Follow @Bwanser_LVRJ on Twitter.

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