Helping to take back a Park: A Concerned Citizen’s Guide
Be patient; reaching the “tipping point” takes time.
It can take time and lots of hard work before a park reaches the “tipping point,” where it shifts from having nefarious activity to safe and full of life. At some point, there will be a critical mass of positive activity, and the “feel” of the park will shift. Don’t give up if it doesn’t happen right away.
Don’t put yourself in danger.
Drug dealers/users and other criminals who inhabit your park can be dangerous. Don’t unnecessarily risk your safety by confronting them directly. There are many other effective strategies for making your park safer.
Don’t go it alone.
LASD is our most important resource for fighting crime, but developing relationships with the Sheriff takes time and work. Get to know the beat deputies, your precinct’s community affairs officer, and your precinct’s captain. Go to the monthly meeting of your local Sheriff Community council, and let them know about the issues that matter to you.
Be the “eyes and ears” of the Sheriff.
Neither the Sheriff nor the park enforcement patrol can be in your park all the time. You can help by reporting any problems you see. The more you report problems, the more likely the Sheriff are to help you, as their distribution of resources is determined by the number of complaints they receive. You should also report problems about parks by calling the County’s information line at any time.
Be specific about the problems.
Look for patterns and report them. Is there a particular time when kids hang out, when people sell or use drugs, or when dealers walk their pit bulls? Are there “regulars” who make trouble? More details make it easier for the Sheriff and park enforcement patrol to focus on the problem people, times, and places.
Get on the agenda.
Go to every monthly meeting of your local Sheriff Community council. Bring others with you. There is no better way for the Sheriff to know about the issues that matter to you. Also attend meetings of your local block watches/clubs. Don’t forget elected officials, too.
Think about organizing a safety committee/patrol.
When done properly, having a group focused on safety issues and/or a patrol can prove a good
supplement. But you must organize such groups carefully, and in full consultation with the park
enforcement patrol and the Sheriff, if they’re to be successful and appropriate.
Source: Adapted for View Park from Partnerships for Parks, a joint program of the City Parks Foundation and the New York City Parks & Recreation Department