Draper Police cracking down on Corner Canyon parking lot issuesApr 27, 2021 12:29PM ● By Mimi Darley Dutton
After 34 juveniles were detained for illegal behavior, the school district installed gates in the rear parking lot of CCHS in an attempt to help police decrease dangerous behaviors and keep trespassers out. (Mimi Darley Dutton/City Journals)
By Mimi Darley Dutton | [email protected]
The Corner Canyon High School parking lot has long been a problem for Draper Police on evenings and weekends, but in the last year, it’s gotten especially bad.
In early April, 34 juveniles were detained by police after numerous attempts to educate them about the dangers of being in the area and kicking them out for trespassing in the past. Meanwhile, residents in the area of 12300 South and 1300 East have experienced an increase in late-night noise in their neighborhoods including cars backfiring, engine-revving, and cars peeling out. They’re communicating on social media to try to resolve it. Concerned residents and police agree that parental awareness and involvement are a simple solution to the help alleviate the city’s problems involving youth.
Lt. Pat Evans has been with the city’s police department for 17 years. “Since I’ve worked for Draper, there have been kid hangouts, but it was much more mild then, it wasn’t as crazy as these kids have been.”
Evans said it began with loud and reckless driving in the CCHS parking lot, fires being set and other dangerous behavior. “Last year, we had a kid riding in a car, standing up out the sunroof. That vehicle crashed into a pole and he was seriously injured and sent to Primary Children’s Hospital. About a month ago, a small explosive device was set off in the parking lot. When we reviewed the security camera, it was scary to watch how the kids fled. They drove out of the parking lot quickly, and in all different directions, at the same time kids were running away. The video was very disturbing to see.”
Neighbors in the CCHS area have been upset by noise and damage to their property and police have had Zoom calls with them to try to come up with solutions. Evans said CCHS has messaged parents in different ways, but the problems persisted. After many attempts at talking with kids who were hanging out in the area, and after numerous warnings, the police took a zero tolerance stance. “There comes a point where you have to start enforcement to have a change in behaviors,” Evans said.
The police suspected a lot of the kids weren’t CCHS students or Draper residents, but 12 were. First offenders (those with no criminal record who admit guilt) will be sent to Draper’s Peer Court, and others will go to juvenile court. Evans said 28 are charged with trespassing and six with reckless driving, three of whom were driving without a license. Some were cited for more than one offense.
Metal gates have now been installed in the rear parking lot of the high school as a last-ditch effort to curtail the problem. “Gates at a high school are a hard decision to make. It becomes a daunting task to make sure they’re locking at the right time. They (the school district) was trying to avoid gating the parking lot for legitimate reasons. They’ve been great partners,” Evans said. For the last eight months, before the gates were put in place, police had tried employing off-duty officers at the school and the district was helping cover those costs.
Felicia Boothe has lived in the same neighborhood near 1300 East for 25 years. Recently, she began to experience something that’s never been a problem before. She went to bed with her window open only to be woken up by street noise.
“It felt like there was a race right behind me, it was so loud,” Boothe said. It typically starts about 11 p.m. and she reached out to her neighborhood online group because many people were experiencing the same problem into the wee hours of the morning. “I thought it was an isolated incident, but evidently it’s going on in pockets in Sandy and Draper. They (the youth) have a good network of where they’re going to meet up and what they’re going to do. It’s almost like clockwork,” she said.
Boothe observed kids gathering in the Macey’s parking lot. Some were just hanging out, some were playing music loudly, and one car had the muffler cut off to sound like a gunshot when it backfires. “I realized that’s what I was hearing the night before,” she said.
Boothe is sympathetic to their cause of needing a place to hang out. “I think most are completely unaware of the impact on those around them. I’m going to guess that if you talked to them and told them they’re waking us up…(the reasonable ones would understand). The ones that don’t are the ones that police need to talk to. I think we want to work as a community to come up with some good solutions. I would like to see these young people have a way to gather, engage in activities within the boundaries of the law. These kids have a lot of influencers in their lives— parents, teachers, religious leaders. If they’re all communicating the same message, we might make a dent in it. I’m a believer that it takes a village to raise a child,” she said.
Both Evans and Boothe proposed one simple solution to help alleviate the problem. “It’s important for parents to know where their kids are, to talk to them about reckless driving and why it’s dangerous. I went to Alta (High School), and in 1997, a student was killed in a parking lot. He was hanging on to a vehicle, an accident occurred, and he lost his life. I think the real way to solve it starts at home. Parents need to know where their kids are, what they’re doing, and have consequences if their kids are not driving safely. Take away their car or do what they have to do,” Evans said. “We’re very lucky we didn’t have other serious injuries or fatalities at the school. Police officers were in the rear parking lot impounding a vehicle while kids who were still hanging out in the front lot crashed into each other. Had any of these parents driven through that parking lot and seen what was going on, they would not have allowed their kids there.”
Boothe agrees. “Until they’re 18, they are the legal responsibility of their parents. Parents need to get involved on where their kids are going and what they’re doing. If that conversation isn’t happening, then it needs to. Their parents need to be held accountable.”
Evans and Boothe suspect that some of the youth who have caused problems around CCHS are the same as those gathering in the Macey’s parking lot and 1300 East area. The problem spans the cities of Sandy and Draper, but Evans said both he and Police Chief John Eining worked for Sandy City police previously and they continue to work cooperatively.
Evans also said police have zero tolerance for street racing, and if caught, racers’ cars will be impounded. He said that if police aren’t there or aware when street racing is happening, they’d ask people to call police immediately.
“Really, the last thing we want to do is arrest a juvenile. We want parents to be parents and hopefully we can all have positive interactions,” Evans said.