A man being arrested for indecent exposure at Cadron Settlement Park fought officers Wednesday in an attempt to avoid apprehension during a sting operation.
The man was participating in lewd behavior in the bathroom in front of Investigator Andy Shock. Shock attempted to detain the individual when he resisted arrest.
Sgt. Matt Rice uses his cell phone to coordinate with undercover officers in Cadron Settlement Park during the Faulkner County Sheriff's office sting operation Wednesday. COURTNEY KUHLEN PHOTO
Shock said the man punched him in the neck, knocked Shock's cell phone out of his hand, took the phone, and went running toward the woods.
Officers pursued the man on foot and arrested him for numerous charges, including third-degree battery.
"I'm glad it was me there. I'm trained to handle situations like that instead of a family at the park with their children," Shock said.
The Faulkner County Sheriff's Office continued its attempt to crack down on sexual deviance at the park this week. Undercover deputies spent Tuesday and Wednesday at the park attempting to clean up the area.
One man arrested during a June 15 sting operation was arrested again Wednesday.
"My main concern is what they're going to do once they have done something we can charge them with. I want to be sure I have made the good arrest," the undercover deputy said. "We just want to make sure we don't do anything that could jeopardize the charges or have them thrown out when we go to court."
Undercover officers were allowing men to solicit them in the park in order to make the arrests.
"There is a satisfaction to it. The first time I came out here was during the first sting, and I couldn't believe it," one officer said. "There is no way I would bring my grandkids up here for any reason. We need to get rid of this so families can use it as a place to relax and enjoy themselves - a place where I can bring my grandkids, especially if the city plans to take the park over."
In May the Conway City Council discussed buying Cadron Settlement Park for green space use with money earned from the Conway Advertising and Promotion Commission's controversial hamburger tax.
Arrests were made for suspicion of public sexual indecency, disorderly conduct and indecent exposure. In addition to those charges, each individual was charged with loitering. The charges hold a mandatory appearance in Conway District Court and one charge, indecent exposure, holds a $1,050 fine.
"We're out here to try to drive these sexual activities out of the public view in this park," Investigator Sgt. Matt Rice said. "We want more families to be able to come up here, bring the kids, and enjoy the outdoors without having to worry about what their children might see."
Internet Web sites identify parks that are "safe" for the individuals' activity, according to Rice. According to the Web sites, people involved in the activities are looking for undercover cops.
They identify several characteristics of undercover cops, such as driving vehicles with expired tags (vehicles seized by the officers), behaving suspiciously and coming out of the woods on bicycles (bicycle cops).
Two of the men arrested Tuesday claimed the arrests made were by entrapment.
"I was just jogging. I did not ask for sex. I did not ask him anything about his genitals or anything like that. He's the one that asked me if he could sit down and visit and I was stretching after jogging. I was walking, cooling down, and I figure it's partly entrapment," an arrested individual said.
According to Arkansas State Law, entrapment is the act of officers or agents of the government inducing a person to commit a crime not contemplated by him in order to later bring criminal prosecution against that person.
Rice said the men are not falling into entrapment because they are soliciting the undercover officers for sexual acts rather than the officers seeking them.
"The object is for them to say something to us, first. They don't know who we are when they talk to us," he said.
The undercover officers drove covert vehicles through the park so they did not blow their cover. All the undercover men were patrol deputies and investigators with the Major Crime Unit. Rice said more sting operations are planned for Cadron Settlement Park.
"This will last as long as it has to in order to stop these activities," he said. "We want them to know we're out here. If you come to this park, by God, you might just run into a police officer."
Rice said Sheriff Marty Montgomery was in full support of the operation, which arrested 11 men over the two-day period.
Eight men were arrested after the first sting operation June 15. All men arrested will appear in court July 17 for a plea date.
According to FSCO Investigator Shock, the following men were arrested and formally charged during recent sting operations:
Frank Lambart, 73, of Conway, on suspicion of indecent exposure.
Edgar Holt, 65, of Conway, on suspicion of public sexual indecency.
Peter Farhatt, 50, of Searcy, on suspicion of public sexual indecency.
Kenneth Warford, 57, of Clinton, on suspicion of indecent exposure.
Tommy Harris, 28, of Conway, on suspicion of public sexual indecency.
Samuel Buchanan, 31, of Conway, on suspicion of public sexual indecency.
Earl Walker, 64, of El Paso, on suspicion of disorderly conduct.
Michael Moss, 55, of Conway, on suspicion of public sexual indecency.
June 27 through
Masayuki Ward, 62, of Russellville, on suspicion of indecent exposure, loitering, resisting arrest, and third-degree battery.
Richard Turner, 35, of Damascus, on suspicion of public sexual indecency and loitering.
Michael Shaver, 47, of Little Rock, on suspicion of indecent exposure and loitering.
Julius Gaudet, Jr., 35, of Conway, on suspicion of indecent exposure.
Clifford Leduc, 52, of Conway, on suspicion of harassment and loitering.
Jerry Smith, 59, of Russellville, on suspicion of indecent exposure and loitering.
Donny Hickman, 60, of Stigler, Okla., on suspicion of public sexual indecency and loitering.
Josh Perry, 22, of Morrilton, on suspicion of indecent exposure, loitering, third-degree battery, resisting arrest, fleeing, theft of property, and obstructing governmental operations.
Charles Latta, 36, ofRussellville, on suspicion of indecent exposure and loitering.
Albert Dunaha, 62, of Maumelle, on suspicion of indecent exposure and loitering.
Frank Lambert, 73, of Conway, on suspicion of criminal trespass.
(Staff writer Stefanie Sampson can be reached by e-mail at stefanie .firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1240)