The Stearns Count Sheriff's Office says more law enforcement officers will be sent to local parks due to a wave of crime in the area.
The sheriff's office, in a media release, said it has noted "an increase in incidents" at parks over the past several weeks. While the main violations are related to drug and alcohol use, the sheriff's office said fights and thefts have also been reported — particularly at Quarry Park in Waite Park.
“It is unfortunate that some people go to the parks only to create problems, drink to excess, and steal when most people are just trying to enjoy the parks that Stearns County has to offer," said Sheriff Steve Soyka in the release.
In response, the sheriff's office is planning "increased staffing of officers" plus a zero-tolerance approach to park ordinance violations "for the foreseeable future."
Law enforcement will be focused on ordinances related to drug and alcohol use, but the sheriff's office says "all violations will be cited accordingly. Visitors who break the law might be prohibited from the parks in the future.
Rising violent crime rates have been seen nationwide since the start of the pandemic, with spikes happening in large cities that have discussed reduced police funding, as well as in cities that have put more money into the police department, according to the Associated Press.