GREEN COVE SPRINGS – City Council members welcomed the New Year by honoring two residents who called authorities and led to the arrest of suspects accused of vandalizing Spring Park in …
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – City Council members welcomed the New Year by honoring two residents who called authorities and led to the arrest of suspects accused of vandalizing Spring Park in mid-December.
Josh Hobbs and Hannah Westberry received the first ever Cove awards. They called police after they saw people in Spring Park playing with turtles. Officers saw one person in the group had paint on them. When questioned, two adults and two juveniles confessed to the vandalism and were arrested.
“The point here is if you see something, say something, and be responsible,” said Green Cove Springs Police Chief Derek Asdot. “Don’t be scared to do the right thing because good things might occur from (calling authorities).”
Sgt. Barbara Luedtke said the vandalism occurred Dec. 16. She said people playing with turtles isn’t uncommon.
“We interviewed them, and they confessed to it,” Luedtke said. “The park has been vandalized before. It’s a very hard crime to catch. None of the individuals involved were actually from Green Cove, most of them were from Orange Park or Middleburg. They happened to come back the next day.”
Hobbs and Westberry thanked the officers and stated their appreciation for the park. They said calling authorities was the right thing to do. The Cove Award is presented to residents demonstrating, “...the kind of commitment, cooperation, responsibility, and respect that are crucial in maintaining a strong community,” according to a city release.
“The officers did all the hard work,” Hobbs said.
“We like that park, too,” Westberry added.
In other law enforcement matters, Asdot recently returned from 11 weeks of training at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. He called it a pinnacle of his law enforcement career and he is ready to use that knowledge in Green Cove Springs.
“You learn the best practices in law enforcement, not only the 50 states represented, but 23 other countries there as well,” Asdot said. “The ability to pick their brain, what they do, how they do it was absolutely enriching.”
In closing remarks, council member Van Royal stressed maintaining communication with the county, especially with the departure of county manager Stephanie Kopelousos. Mayor Connie Butler also asked council members to provide City Manager Steve Kennedy their goals for the year.
“Losing Stephanie, that (county manager) transition will be a big one,” Council member Pam Lewis said.
“We cannot communicate enough, the more the better,” Royal said.