Statement from Mayor George Regarding Incident at Madison ParkOctober 21, 2021
Safety has always been a top priority for our city, and since taking office as mayor last year, I have taken numerous steps to address safety in Lakewood. That includes installation of 40 additional cameras with enhanced technology citywide. We also developed a strategic approach to comprehensive safety at our parks, including safety forces staffing and physical improvements.
Part of that strategic parks’ safety plan introduced this year was to increase the presence of our city security guards at parks. Lakewood now has uniformed security guards present seven days a week at Madison Park, including evening hours. These security guards work in partnership with our police officers to patrol the parks and keep them safe.
Yesterday, a security guard on duty at Madison Park identified that the suspect, a Lakewood resident, appeared to be having a drug or mental health crisis episode, and he called police to respond. When the suspect then grabbed a child practicing soccer at the park, the security guard immediately jumped into action with a coach to subdue the suspect and hold him down until officers quickly arrived.
I was highly concerned for the safety of the children and others involved in yesterday’s incident. The enhanced safety protocols implemented earlier this year were successful in preventing a bad situation from becoming much worse. Our security guard spotted the issue and acted with others on scene to apprehend the suspect, who is currently in custody charged with kidnapping, a first-degree felony.
I have personally spoken to the parents of the victims to check on their wellness. Our city will be prosecuting the suspect to the fullest extent of the law. Support services are also being offered to any children who were involved or witnessed the situation and whose families are interested.
I want to personally thank our security guard, who has decades of public safety work experience and used his training well to protect our children. I also want to thank the coach who helped subdue the suspect, the other parents on scene, and our police officers who also took swift action to help.
Lakewood’s parks are community treasures and we will continue to be vigilant in working to make them as safe as possible.
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