Detectives have been conducting undercover investigations at the Interstate 10 beach and Civic Center grounds since five sex arrests were made there last month, Sheriff Tony Mancuso said.
Five men were arrested for inappropriate behavior in the outdoor public restrooms during a sting operation July 10-11.
The men were seen masturbating in the restrooms in plain view at the beach and at the north end of the Civic Center by the water fountain, Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Kim Myers said.
In an interview after the arrests, Mancuso said detectives would start monitoring the area more aggressively. Undercover detectives have since made several arrests.
Mancuso said detectives make an arrest when they catch someone performing a sex act or soliciting for sex in public facilities or on public grounds.
He said officers were not looking to be the “moral police” but that their primary concern was keeping such activity out of public places.
“We don’t want it in our parks and our public areas where our children go and people go to have a relaxing time and enjoy the outdoors and our public facilities,” he said.
Mancuso said the parks are safe and that those arrested are not “pedophiles or stalkers” who pose a serious threat to people’s safety. He said their behavior was simply inappropriate for where they were.
Mancuso said officers conduct investigations during the day and at night. Employees with the city parks department maintain the restrooms and lock the doors each evening.