COLUMBIA — The Oakland Family Aquatic Center has been experiencing problems with small disturbances for years, and two more police officers have been added to its security force in order to curb crime.
“I’ve been with the Columbia Police Department for about seven years now, but I know we’ve been sending officers there for years before I came,” Sgt. Lloyd Simons said.
A recent disturbance at the center, located at 1900 Blue Ridge Road, has caused some patrons to feel uncomfortable and, as a result, leave. Janel Twehous, recreation supervisor of aquatics for Columbia Parks and Recreation, said that she requested additional officers in response to a fight she said occurred June 4 involving 12 to 16 teenagers.
“They congregated in the pool area and then left to go to a nearby park,” she said. Twehous also said that for about five years, Parks and Recreation has paid Columbia police officers to act as supervisors at the pool, in addition to providing security, as an overtime assignment.
“There have been many reports of stealing up there with the lockers, people picking them or breaking them off, as well as some fights and other disturbances,” Simons said. He went on to say that he’s been lucky enough that whenever he’s been at Oakland he has only had reports of stealing.
“We create a schedule in the spring and send out officers at random to the pool,” Simons said. One of the officers will be cut back if the situation improves.
Twehous is committed to improving the atmosphere of Oakland.
“It needs to remain a family pool, and we’re not going to allow these incidents to continue ... I’m taking care of it.”