Doko Park vandals truck ID’d

BLYTHEWOOD – Following an incident of vandalism in Doko Meadows Park on Saturday, July 31, Mayor Bryan Franklin and Town Administrator Carroll Williamson said during the Aug. 2, town council meeting that the incident had been captured on park cameras.

Williamson said he didn’t know if the incident had been reported to the Richland County Sheriff’s office, that he had so far been working on gathering information on the incident and would report it soon. “We’ve been figuring who it was and capturing it,” Williams said.

On Tuesday, Aug. 3, Steve Hasterok, Director of the Conference and Event Center (Doko Manor and Park) filed a report with the Richland County Sheriff’s office about a pickup truck caught on the park cameras doing ‘donuts’ in the backfield of the park leaving deep ruts that damaged the grass.

The incident, according to the Sheriff’s report, occurred in the daytime at about 6 p.m., July 29. According to Hasterok, the incident may have been associated with a group picnicking in the park.

Hasterok told The Voice that the pickup truck license plate was caught on camera and identified, but the suspect has not yet been contacted or arrested. He said Franklin and town attorney Shannon Burnett are waiting for Williamson to come back from vacation later this week when they will discuss what action to take on the matter.

Talking about the vandalism at the Aug. 2 council meeting, Franklin said the town has been far too lenient on park vandals and promised to start enforcing the law to the fullest extent for vandalism of town property.

Time to Enforce Law

“I’ve instructed the town attorney to prosecute that individual to the full extent of the law,” Franklin said. “If the barricade doesn’t work and Richland County can’t assist us in enforcing it, then we’ll do a security force of our own.

“We’ve been far too lenient and far too patient and now it’s time to enforce the law,” he said. “And we plan to do that.”

Hasterok said there have been at least 15 incidents of vandalism in the park over the years.

It was similar to another ‘donut’ vandalism during the winter when a Blythewood teenager was identified after digging deep tracks and ‘donuts’ in the grass in the park with his pickup truck, causing approximately $1,500 in damage.

The incident was captured on the town park’s surveillance cameras in conjunction with a group of teens who were using the park as a nightly hangout, according to Hasterok.

Hasterok told Richland County Sheriff’s deputies that the problem had been ongoing.

While the town did not take that ‘donut’ case to court, the town’s attorney, Shannon Burnett, working with Town Administrator Carroll Williamson and Mayor Bryan Franklin, reached a settlement that Burnett called ‘stiff,’ with the teen’s attorney.

“He was required to pay $1,500 for the damages and must work 40 hours at the park. Except for his required work there, he is banned from the park for two years,” Burnett said. “If he completes these requirements, the issue is settled. If not, we have the option to prosecute, and we will.

“We’ve also had vandals breaking lights along the walking trails and ladies have complained about harassment as they go on morning and evening walks,” Franklin said. At least one man has been prosecuted for harassment in the park.

New Security Options

Town council has in recent months discussed taking steps to stop the vandals, including upgrading surveillance cameras so they will pick up greater detail, keeping a closer eye on park goings-on after dark, and town hall is currently installing an additional gate just past the town Christmas tree in front of Town Hall. That is the only remaining road open to the park after hours.

 Franklin said Monday night that “the Eagle scouts are coming to put a fence along Freeway Music and then on the south side of the farmers market.

“That will be a physical barricade, physically impossible to get in unless they violate the ordinance,” he said.


  1. Gus Philpott says

    OK, so whose truck was it? And who was driving? Stop fooling around and let the sheriff’s dept. investigate and charge. Cutting a sweetheart deal with no arrest should not be an option.

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