Adult basketball is returning to community center with more security

02/20/2013 1:01 AM

05/16/2014 9:12 PM

A police officer will provide beefed-up security for Westport Roanoke Community Center’s Tuesday night adult basketball program after a recent shootout in the parking lot.

“We will have an off-duty officer there until we feel a level of ease and comfort,” Mark Bowland, manager of community services for the parks department, said Tuesday.

The officer will be present for five hours on Tuesday evenings indefinitely and can be moved to other community centers if issues arise, he said.

Bowland briefed the parks commissioners about enhanced security initiatives in the wake of a Feb. 5 shootout among players in Westport Roanoke’s parking lot at 3601 Roanoke Road. One man was injured, but Bowland said the victim declined to prosecute.

Police and city officials said the shooting occurred just before 8 p.m. after a fight broke out in the gym. The dispute continued in the parking lot. At least two men fired at each other, unloading 29 bullets that struck three vehicles and one man in the thigh. The parks department then suspended the program at the center.

Along with enhanced security, the department will require open basketball patrons at all centers to provide valid photo identification.

Bowland said Westport Roanoke’s security camera recorder wasn’t working at the time but has been fixed. The city is evaluating how to improve cameras, lighting and other security features at Westport and its other community centers.

“I think it’s important that we look carefully at ways of making sure our facilities are safe, up to and including cameras,” he said.

Bowland and parks director Mark McHenry said incidents of violence at the centers are rare, but if more security measures are needed, the department will find a way to pay for them.


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