After numerous complaints from the public and Portsmouth City Council members, Portsmouth police have lots of extra patrols using uniformed and plainclothes officers to keep an eye on Tracy Park, said police Capt. Jason Hedrick.
Filled out by one of those plainclothes officers, a detective on the force, two recent incident reports obtained by the Daily Times read in part: “The Portsmouth Police Department has been receiving a lot of complaints of illegal activities occurring inside of Tracy Park. Our officers have been patrolling the parking adhering to strict enforcement of all violations.”
On Oct. 21, the officer in question said he was patrolling the park and found the suspect sitting “approximately 50 to 60 feet from children playing on the playground.” The officer suspected the man was drinking an alcoholic beverage from inside a brown paper bag.
“Why would you ever come here and drink alcohol with kids playing so close to you?” the officer reportedly asked the suspect, Andrew L. Edwards of Portsmouth. Edwards allegedly admitted he was drinking alcohol and immediately poured out what he was drinking while speaking with police. He then threw the can in a trash receptacle. He was cited for carrying an open container of an alcoholic beverage.
On the same date, the same detective was again patrolling Tracy Park when he observed the suspect Vincent Herman of New Boston sitting on the park stage. Again, he was described as being 50 to 60 feet from the playground. Again, and also, the detective alleged the suspect appeared to be drinking an alcoholic beverage from a brown paper bag. After asking if he was drinking an adult beverage, the detective reportedly told him “don’t lie because you don’t know I have been watching you.” Herman tossed the remainder of his can of beer in a trash receptacle and like Edwards was cited for possessing an open container of an alcoholic beverage.
For his part, Hedrick talked about a seemingly large increase in homeless activity in the park. He mentioned alleged infractions include abuse of alcohol along with folks sleeping on and beneath the park’s gazebo stage, on benches and under trees. He further said homeless use the park as a bathroom. Hedrick was careful to say police are not being redirected from the normal assignments but said the department is using officers on overtime to watch the area.
According to Hedrick, there have been no serious incidents.
The Daily Times receives daily incident reports from Portsmouth police. Going back to August, those reports show approximately two or three incidents in the park. Those reports do not necessarily include every incident which took place in the park or the city during that time.
On August 22, police on patrol in a marked cruiser said they noticed a man allegedly staggering down the street near Tracy Park. Reports say a female began to run down the street after the man and officers approached both near the corner of 20th and Waller streets.
According to police, the suspect, Joseph Stotridge, told them he was on his way to his girlfriend’s home. The reporting officer said he contacted the woman who informed him she did not want the suspect at her home if he had been drinking. Stotridge was placed in custody for disorderly conduct as the reporting officer considered him a possible danger to himself and/or others. He was taken to the Scioto County Jail.
More recently on Oct. 8, police apparently wanted to arrest a homeless man, 44, after allegedly finding him sleeping on the gazebo in the park well after closing hours. A report states police had previously told Christopher L. Pennington he was not permitted in the park after hours. A report states police did not arrest Pennington because of an open sore on his leg. At the time, officers feared the county jail would not be able to accept him because of his injury. Officers issued Pennington a summons and advised him of a morning court date.
Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370-0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.