Community group comes together after sexual assault in McCarty Park

NOW: Community group comes together after sexual assault in McCarty Park

WEST ALLIS (CBS 58) -- A West Allis woman is working on keeping her neighborhood safe by starting a community group in wake of a sexual assault that happened in a nearby park.

The group ‘Friends of McCarty Park’ was created this week with the goal to make the park cleaner and safer. The group had their first community project Saturday as they worked to clean up trash left in the park and pond.

“Make this a fun place that people look forward to coming, it will push the undesirable members of the community out,” Friends of McCarty Park Creator Shannon Schroeder said.

A 52-year-old woman said she was raped in McCarty Park as she was walking around 11 p.m. last week. Schroeder said the incident sparked a conversation about improving the park.

"McCarty Park is a very safe park, but that did put us in the spotlight,” Schroeder said. “It's unfortunate that that had to happen to get people talking." 

The group’s mission is to clean, get their neighbors involved in park events and to report any suspicious behavior to police.

“The more the public gets involved, the more eyes and ears we have as law enforcement,” Milwaukee County Acting Sheriff Richard Schmidt said.

The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the sexual assault. Sheriff Schmidt said this kind of community relationship helps law enforcement.

“I applaud them for the concept, I'm fully supportive of that and hopefully this will increase the safety of that park,” Sheriff Schmidt said.

The West Allis Police Department told CBS 58 while the sexual assault was tragic; crime surrounding the park is low. Police briefly met with the group this week and says they would try to partner with them.

In a statement, the West Allis Police Department said in part:

A hallmark of vibrant and safe neighborhoods is the engagement of people who live in those neighborhoods, as such we encourage citizens to become involved in organizations such as neighborhood associations, Friends of Parks associations and Department sponsored block watches.

The Friends of McCarty Park hopes their efforts on the ground make the park a better place for the West Allis community. They’re hoping more community members will join them.

“It's not broken,” Schroeder said. “But it just needs a little T.L.C.”

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