A program that designates local residents to help keep the peace at 12 South Los Angeles parks returned Tuesday after its first run last summer.
“We expect our Safe Passages program, now in its second year, will again demonstrate that a heavy police presence in our communities of color is not always necessary and that unarmed neighbors can play a significant role in keeping the peace in our neighborhood parks,” Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson said during an event at the Algin Sutton Recreation Center.
The Safe Passages program has enlisted and trained civilians as “community safety workers” who will patrol the parks and their perimeters during the summer in an effort to create a safer environment, according to Harris-Dawson’s office.
Last summer, violent crime in and around the 12 parks participating in Safe Passages was 8% less than the year before, he said.
The councilman said “over-policing” of South L.A. neighborhoods has resulted in “tragic and unnecessary encounters” between the Los Angeles Police Department and residents.
“As we try to reimagine the LAPD in a post-George Floyd world, Safe Passages is one solution,” Harris-Dawson said.
Safe Passages is modeled on a similar program that exists for schools. Volunteers have also been deployed tactically to help keep the peace at community events, such as neighborhood festivals, block parties and vigils, that often attract dangerous gang activities, Harris-Dawson said.
In the summer of 2019, there were 121 volunteers who spent 830 hours keeping the peace at 20 events and incidents in South Los Angeles, the councilman said. Safe Passages volunteers also were called to patrol the vigils and memorial activities that occurred after the slaying of rapper Nipsey Hussle in March 2019.
The Safe Passages program will be operating at Algin Sutton Recreation Center, Jim Gilliam Park and Recreation Center, Gilbert Lindsay Recreation Center, Martin Luther King Jr. Park, Julian C. Dixon Park, Van Ness Recreation Center, Mt. Carmel Recreation Center, St. Andrews Recreation Center, Green Meadows Recreation Center, Slauson Multipurpose Center, Rancho Cienega Recreation Center and 109th St. Recreation Center.
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