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After two near-drownings, trespassing continues at Hitchcock Pool in Omaha

Posted at 6:34 PM, Jun 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-14 19:34:12-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — There were two near-drownings in the past few weeks At Hitchcock Park Swimming Pool. Now, break-ins and trespassing continue to happen.

Long-time Omaha resident Greg Smith has vivid memories of break-ins at the pool for decades.

"It was legendary back then, that kids would sneak in there. And they used to be able to go up, all the way up to the diving towers back then. Late at night in the dark, jumping off those," Smith said.

Smith says this isn't a "current generation problem."

"This has been going on since I was in middle school and before that even," he said.

Omaha police are seeing a consistent pattern of groups going to the pool after-hours through fences or locked gates.

Monday night, officers cited two people. One for violating park curfew and another who was charged with a DUI, violating park curfew and not having a driver's license on them.

With more trespassing incidents, Councilmember Vinny Palermo wants to take more measures to enhance public safety.

"This has been going on forever, since the beginning of time in a public space. We have public pools that are in a park. It's nothing new, but the new part is people are getting hurt and now that they are, we certainly want to see and increase the patrol and try to take that aspect away," Palermo said.

Palermo says city leaders will consider all kinds of options.

"If it has to come down to improved lighting, different fence, more police presence, that's certainly what we're willing to do," Palermo said.

Changes like this will take time. In the meantime, police will continue patrolling at night.

At a meeting with other city leaders on Tuesday, Palermo says the issue of trespassing at city pools was discussed.

3 News Now also reached out to the Parks and Recreation Department which says its hopes people take "responsibility for themselves" to not put themselves or others at risk.

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