Council struggles with park profanity

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Police chief: Can’t arrest people for what they say

Managing Editor

CANNELTON – Cannelton Common Council members said at a regular meeting Oct. 8 residents and visitors who wanted to enjoy a city park were scared away by profanity used by others.

Councilwoman Lynn Fulkerson asked Police Chief Lee Hall how often officers patrol what has come to be known as Gazebo Park. She and others spent an hour-and-a-half cleaning the park in preparation for the city’s 175th-anniversary celebration, she said.

“There was the foulest-mouth guys down there,” she said. “I don’t know if it happened after we left, but … some of the guys that were on Taylor (Street) walked over and got in a huge fight, and they were ripping each other’s shirts off. I just know that the whole time we were down there, we never saw a cop car come by once.”

Hall said patrols aren’t made on any set schedule, and the numbers of patrols can depend on call volumes and other factors.

Fulkerson asked if patrols could be made every half hour or once an hour.

“There were at least 10 people when we were down there, if not more, and just cussing …,” she said.

“Unfortunately there are some things we can put a stop to and there are some things we can’t,” Hall replied.

“That was the complaint I had from a lot of the parents that were walking with their children, that this is what we have to put up with,” Fulkerson said.

“We can try to encourage them not to use profanity,” the chief said.

Fulkerson said if police were seen more, the problem might diminish. When her group approached the park, “they went away,” the councilwoman said. “They didn’t want us being there.”

Hall said officers are targets of profanity, too.

“They know how far they can go,” he said of those using the bad language, adding that he would talk to his officers about the issue. “We’ll try to do more patrols through there.”

“There were a lot of families walking through there,” Fulkerson said. “It was a nice evening. I just thought, ‘this is awful for these families to hear this.’ When we were there, they went to the other street.”

Hall said his department received no call about a fight.

He said disorderly conduct charges could be levied against those annoying others, “but you’ve got to be real careful because you can’t arrest them for what they’re saying.”

Mayor Mary Snyder said the incident occurred “when that semi was taking out everything up here.”

The city had to deal with a number of problems that arose when truckers tried to detour around construction on Indiana 66.

“It took us almost two hours to get him pulled out of here,” Hall said.

Councilman Melvin McBrayer asked if the harassing language could be considered a public nuisance.

“It’s up to the prosecuting attorney to decide what charges to press,” city attorney John Werner replied.

“We’ve got to do something to clean it up,” Fulkerson said.

“Sometimes, if they run them off from there, they end up in other spots where they’re causing other people problems,” Clerk-Treasurer Arvina Bozarth noted. “I’ve heard that complaint.”

“They used to sit in front of the businesses, in the little cubbyholes,” Hall said. “We have put a stop to that. That’s not made very many of them happy. We’re seeing a lot of backlash from some of them over that.”

Most of the offenders “do not even have a fixed address,” the chief added when Fulkerson asked if they were Cannelton residents.