Pass Christian police chief wants parks closed at dark

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - A Pass Christian park is no longer available as a night time hangout. Tuesday night, the board of aldermen voted that Church Street Park will be off limits to the public from sundown to sun up. The change came at the request of city's police chief who said he wants to stop problems in the park before they get worse.

Every day, CSX trains roll by Church Street park in Pass Christian. Police said a few weeks ago one of those trains came under attack from a gunman in the park.

"The bullets that were fired, one of them struck one of the windows on the north side of the train," said Chief John Dubuisson. "Had that window not been closed, we would have been doing an investigation on a homicide, probably."

Officers said they found shell casings under the park pavilion. The shooting happened in the wee morning hours. The chief said other recent incidents have him convinced Church Street Park should be closed after dark. Several times officers have come across groups of people congregating at night who were standing next to small bags of marijuana or spice on the ground, but with no one to tie the drugs to, no arrests were made.

City ordinance closes all parks in the Pass at 10pm. The chief pushed for Church Street Park to close earlier to help police cut down on crime. The aldermen agreed and made the change.

"If they're out here, say, after dark thirty, now the officers will have a reason to approach them and ask them what their business is in here," said the chief. "Then either ask them to leave, or write them a citation for violation of city ordinance."

The chief said the park is well used by families during the day, but since there isn't any lighting in Church Street Park, he sees no legitimate reason for people to be there at night. Plus, he said, in the darkness the park becomes a safety hazard.

Chief Dubuisson said, "There again when you get into night usage you're talking about the possibility of someone getting hurt out here at night. The city could be responsible for that. It could be a liability to the city also if people get hurt out here at night."

Pass Christian's mayor said the city is looking into possibly putting up lighting in the future. Meanwhile, if you have any information about the train shooting, please call Crime Stoppers at 1-877-787-5898. Your tips can remain anonymous.

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