“It’s just there to be a deterrent and to keep a watchful eye,” said Marietta Police spokesman Officer David Baldwin. “We haven’t had any calls on it or anything. It’s better to be proactive instead of just reactive.”
Baldwin said the tower, also called the “Spy in the Sky,” is used at a number of locations around the city, including the Marietta Square and various shopping centers.
But it stands out in the parking lot of the wooded 45.6-acre Burruss Park on South Cobb Drive near Cobb Parkway, which is in an area the city made improvements to in order to keep out men who take part in illegal sex acts.
In 2009, Police Chief Dan Flynn said up to 10 misdemeanor arrests were being made in a month at Burress and nearby Wildwood Park .
And parks director Rich Buss said at the time that the parking lot was a popular hangout for gay men, and that any man who walks alone through the park was likely to be propositioned.
Among the improvements to the facility were a dog park at nearby Wildwood Park on Barclay Circle, where complaints of illegal activity were also common, and new bicycle trails at Burruss and Wildwood.
Some vegetation was cleared out to make it more difficult for people to conceal themselves during sexual activity. In addition, the surveillance tower was placed there and was credited with helping keep some potential illegal activity away.
“You have a specific purpose when you go over there now,” said City Councilman Grif Chalfant, who once called the activity in the park “perverted.” “You go to the dog park or you go to ride. If you’re not doing those, then you really shouldn’t be there.”
Chalfant said he is pleased to see the police tower being used as a deterrent to crime in the parks and elsewhere.
“I think it is a good thing to move it around and make people aware that (police) are active in the city,” he said.
Chalfant said that one of the advantages of the tower is its tinted windows, which prevents people from being able to tell whether or not a police officer is eyeing them.
“You really don’t know whether there’s anyone there or not,” he said. “It’s a pretty good little deterrent.”