MANCHESTER -- During this week's spring-like weather, you'd expect to find joggers or birdwatchers on Manchester's Laurel Marsh Trail. Instead, police said they found two men looking for different types of activities on Thursday.
An undercover officer walking the woods said a man approached him while fondling himself, then solicited the officer. Three teens happened to be in the park at the same time, witnessed the encounter and ran away screaming. It's exactly what Manchester police wanted to avoid.
"We want our residents to go and our families to be able to go enjoy nature and the parks and not have to worry about any illicit behavior," said Capt. Chris Davis of Manchester Police.
Davis told FOX 61 another man, in a separate but similar incident, was also arrested on Thursday, bringing the total number of arrests of this variety up to nine in less than a month. Police cuffed seven of those men in the last week, including an employee from Windsor Schools.
"The individual had asked the officer if he wanted to have some fun and reached down towards the officer's crotch," said Davis of that case.
Each person is accused of breaking the law because of overt sexual behavior.
"When you're out in the public's view, in public places, in public parks where kids frequent, families frequent, it's right across from a school, we can't have that type of behavior and we won't have that type of behavior," said Davis.
Police began their investigation in mid-January after a complaint on Facebook. They soon discovered hard-to-miss sexual evidence all over the trail and started patrolling.
"We'll continue to be down there until we can put an end to it," said Davis.
Meanwhile, park visitors like Aaron Healy said they've known about the salacious situation at Laurel Marsh Trail for years. He said the arrests are only part of the clean up.
"If anything, I just hope they pick up all the trash back here. Could be a really nice park but everyone wants to make it nasty," said Healy.
Police are also looking into online meetup websites and say they've discovered that Connecticut likely has several locations with people engaging in activities similar to ones on Laurel Marsh Trail.