ROCK ISLAND, Illinois — Gun violence prompted the Rock Island parks director to take down the hoops at a popular basketball court.
Executive director John Gripp said the court at Lincoln Park will be closed until there’s a plan in place to make the park safer.
Police responded to gunshots at the court two night ago. Bullets hit one car. Before that police investigated gun shots in May, and one person was shot there last August.
“Frankly, we’ve had it,” Gripp said. “It breaks my heart to take the rims down, but safety is our number one concern.”
Gripp said he knows the hoops aren’t the problem, but they are what bring in the large crowds.
“Great basketball players bring in great fans, bring girlfriends, boyfriend and crowds of people,” Gripp said.
Some of those crowds have gotten out of hand, Gripp said.
“We’re going to put a plan together and we’re going to put an end to this,” he said.
The parks department and the police department are working together. They’ve already increased patrols in the area. Gripp said they are looking at applying to grants to fund installing surveillance cameras.
“These aren’t just your typical cameras. I mean they zoom in, face recognition, license plate, the whole nine yards,” he said.
Not everyone is that positive, like park goer Oscar Olson.
“It’s not going to change that people are violent toward other people,” he said.
Timeta Ellis said, whose kids have played basketball in Lincoln Park, said it’s going to take more to stop the violence.
“If somebody wants to shoot, they’re going to shoot whether there’s a basketball hoop up or not, whether there’s cameras up or not,” she said. “It’s just a sad situation.”
Gripp said he wants people to understand safety in the parks is not a game.
“Enough of the nonsense,” he said. “If you want to be a criminal, you want to get in trouble, come on and do it. We will gladly escort you to jail.”
Gripp said they are also ramping up the police presence at all their other basketball courts until they can put together a safety plan for Lincoln Park.