LESSONS ON PEACE FROM SOUTH LA-An innovative program that last summer proved it could make 12 South LA city parks safer for patrons by deploying local residents to patrol those recreation areas is up and running again it was announced today.
“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,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson at a news conference at the Algin Sutton Recreation Center in South LA.
The Safe Passages program has enlisted and trained scores of civilians as Community Safety Workers (CIWs) who will patrol 12 city parks and their perimeters this summer so park users will be able to enjoy a safer environment. Last summer, violent crime in and around the 12 parks participating in Safe Passages was eight percent less than the year before.
Too often the over-policing of South LA neighborhoods has resulted in tragic and unnecessary encounters between police and residents.
“As we try to reimagine the LAPD in a post-George Floyd world, Safe Passages is one solution,” said Harris-Dawson, who is also supporting initiatives to utilize civilian mental health experts, counselors and intervention specialists instead of police officers as the first responders to many domestic violence, mental health and homeless emergency calls.
Safe Passages – which is modeled after a similar program around schools – is one of a suite of intervention programs that are part of Harris-Dawson’s South LA Community Safety Initiative.
SLACSI volunteers have also been deployed tactically to help keep the peace at community events, like neighborhood festivals, block parties and vigils, that often attract dangerous gang activities, including drive-by shootings. In the summer of 2019 121 CIWs spent 830 hours keeping the peace at 20 events and incidents in South LA.
SLACSI CIWs were called out to patrol the vigils and memorial activities that occurred after the slaying of rapper Nipsey Hussle in March 2019. SLACSI’s intervention teams kept these events peaceful and gave the community a chance to grieve without fear.
Other SLACSI programs include Healing Circles, a program developed in partnership with Loyola Marymount University’s Applied Psychology Research Center. It has provided mental health services to 1,355 South LA residents who have suffered from the trauma occasioned by violence, including police use-of-force incidents.
SLACSI’s Youth Entrepreneurial Workshops, a joint venture with the Brotherhood Crusade and the Baron Jay Foundation, has provided 240 young persons and adults with classroom instruction on how to start up and market their own businesses.
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.
Kerman Maddox, Dakota Communications
Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson