Children played a game of soccer with the newest members of this South Park neighborhood. Ten police officers, part of the Community Safety Partnership, will be based at the South Park recreation center.  The hope is to reduce crime and gang violence and gain residents’ trust.
“Historically more police has not been a positive sign. But I know that all of us here share the same vision for this park. And that is to make it a safe place where our families can build memories. Our children can run freely and the community can gather,” said South Park councilman Curren Price.
South Park is an area where more than a third of residents are under 18. Sherri Green raised her children and grandchildren in the neighborhood and is excited for the program.
“I think it’s wonderful, I think our park is going to be much better than it has been. It’s an environment that our kids can come in and enjoy with no problem,” Green said.
Green remembers when more officers meant more trouble for the community.
“They were harassing the kids, harassing the young men up here in the park. They have always harassed them for no apparent reason,” she said.
Officers in the program are diverse, from the community, and were selected with the input from residents.
“I’m very excited to start, I’m excited to help out the community where I lived in,” officer Eddie Montana said. “As kids, I remember we didn’t have  a  nice park to play with where the gang members weren’t trying to harass us.”
The Community Safety Partnership, which began in 2011 can be found in other communities across Los Angeles. Programming in South Park will begin next fall.
Reporting by Mirian Fuentes.