Cops warn skaters without helmets
Vail, CO Colorado
FRISCO ” Around 20 people, mostly kids, were skateboarding at the Frisco skate park last Tuesday when a police officer arrived and told them no one could leave, one parent said.
Two more officers pulled up at the park, and the police gave warnings to about a dozen of the skaters for not wearing helmets, a violation of park rules, the parent said. They did not issue any tickets.
It’s not uncommon for police to patrol county skate parks.
“It’s a public safety thing,” Frisco Police Chief Tom Wickman said. “I wouldn’t consider it a crackdown, just day-to-day operations.”
But some parents said they were unhappy about the way police handled the situation.
“I agree with requiring helmets 100 percent,” said Lynne Drakos, who was at the park watching her 9-year-old son skate when the police arrived. “But I’m not an advocate of intimidating kids or treating them disrespectfully.”
Drakos’ son did not receive a warning because he was wearing a helmet. Drakos said she has spent a lot of time watching her son skate at parks in Breckenridge, Frisco and Silverthorne.
Sometimes police come through and talk to the kids about wearing helmets, and she has generally been pleased with how they’ve handled similar situations in the past.
But she was concerned that the tactic used recently in Frisco was an inappropriate way to convince kids to keep themselves safer by wearing helmets.
“They’re not bad kids,” she said. “But that was the message they were given, and that just spirals downward.”
Although signs in the park state that helmets are required and skaters skate at their own risk, parent Graeme Johnston called the signs ambiguous.
“There is no sign saying there is a penalty for not having a helmet,” Johnston said.
His 14-year-old daughter was at the park last week watching her friends skate from just inside the fence when the police arrived. She was told she would be ticketed for being in the park without a helmet, although she was not skating, Johnston said. In the end, the police decided not to give her a warning.
A sign posted near the entrance to the Frisco park does list the rules, but is so covered by stickers that some rules are difficult to read. The sign does not state the possibility of penalties for violating any of the rules. Two other signs inside the park are not visible from the outside.
Rules at the skate parks in Breckenridge, Frisco and Silverthorne are similar.
However, Frisco and Silverthorne require skaters to wear helmets, whereas Breckenridge highly recommends but does not require their use.
In Breckenridge, rule violations are not very common, said Kim DiLallo, director of communications for the town. Park staff have a good relationship with skaters, and they find that simply talking to any rule violators usually alleviates the situation, she said.
“On any given day, you can sit and watch the use of the skate park and witness very pleasant interactions and youth, as well as adults, enjoying skateboarding,” she said. “There is a sense of pride and ownership in the facility.”