Illicit sex arrests in Tulsa's Mohawk Park

Tuesday, May 14th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Tulsa Police crack down on sex in the park. They say Mohawk Park has become the latest hangout for people who want to meet strangers for illicit sex.

News on Six crime reporter Lori Fullbright went along on a recent undercover bust and explains what police are doing to make the park family friendly once again.

Tulsa Police Sgt Luke Sherman, "Everybody make sure you have your handcuffs and if you're going to carry a gun, make sure, if you get into a hand-to hand combat situations, it's not going to fall out."

Sherman prepares his squad for an assignment nobody likes, but all believe is important. Citizens flood the phone lines with complaints about adults meeting at Mohawk Park to have sex. These officers disagree with those who claim this is a low priority crime.

Tulsa Police Cpl BK Smith: "When I think of this activity and families and children, I can't think of a much bigger priority than that." Undercover officers drive through the park, some get out and sit, and others stay in their cars. It takes only moments before a stranger strikes up a conversation and invites them into the woods. Minutes later, the stranger comes out in handcuffs, the crimes range from sexual battery, to indecent exposure and soliciting a lewd act.

Smith says they're not picking on homosexuals. “This is not a man on man thing, this is a public thing. Many of the men we arrested today are married with families and children." The problem is so bad that the park even posted signs warning people to take their lewd behavior elsewhere.

Officers arrest one person right after another during the few hours they're working the park. Police officers say this is an equal opportunity crime. They've arrested all ages, all economic backgrounds, and even all professions, from a doctor to a teacher, even a Bible salesman. On this day, police arrest a man who plans birthday parties for children.

He and some of the others arrested, accuse police of entrapment. Smith: "Our officers are well trained and well educated about the city and state laws. This is not entrapment. We're not targeting innocent people. We're working complaints that people are coming to us about."

Police say the activity increases in the spring, which is especially bad because school children take field trips here and families enjoy time together. Police officers say those people should be able to come to a public park without worrying they'll see something that is supposed to be kept private.

In their first three trips to the park, officers made 20 arrests; most of those were for felony crimes.