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Appendix B: Urban Parks Problem-Oriented Policing Projects

(Summaries of submissions for the Herman Goldstein Award for Excellence in Problem-Oriented Policing, prepared by Joshua Henze)

Anaheim (California) Police Department—Parolee-Free Parks (1998)

Parole-Free Zones was an initiative to deal with crime and disorder problems in three of Anaheim, Calif.'s, worst parks: La Palma, Pearson, and Twila Reid. Police sent letters to convicts with narcotics violations in Anaheim. Police informed them that, as a new condition of their parole, police would immediately arrest and incarcerate the convicts if they found them in parks. Calls for service for all three parks fell 72 percent within the first year. Displacement proved minimal. http://www.popcenter.org/library/awards/goldstein/1998/98-02.pdf

Appleton (Wisconsin) Police Department—The Park Rescue Project (2001)

Wisconsin's Appleton Police Department developed the Park Rescue Project in partnership with local residents, politicians, and government agencies to deal with citizen complaints regarding drunken transients in the city's parks. First, they enacted a local city ordinance to restrict park alcohol use. Second, they initiated a multiagency transient eviction program. Third, social services agencies collaborated with the police and park services to exchange information on transients regularly. Finally, they implemented CPTED principles by changing the park's natural surveillance and territorial reinforcement. In the affected parks, alcohol-related calls decreased 89 percent, and general police calls for service dropped 38 percent. The project improved safety and quality of life in the parks, as the community regained its sense of ownership, and the parks became safe places to visit and enjoy. http://www.popcenter.org/library/awards/goldstein/2001/01-01.pdf

Baltimore County (Maryland) Police Department—Patterson Park Outreach Program (1997)

The Baltimore County Police Department's Patterson Park Outreach Program involved the creation of a community-police board and public forums to deal with problems in a local community park. Local residents, the police, the city attorney's office, and other city agencies worked together on specific problem issues/areas in Patterson Park and surrounding neighborhoods. Those involved used traditional and nontraditional methods, including law enforcement, nuisance abatement, and active citizen participation, to address problem tenants, litter, and drug trafficking. The project resulted in increased confidence and optimism among neighborhood residents. In the following year, burglaries decreased 35 percent, robberies decreased 17 percent, and larcenies decreased 15 percent. http://www.popcenter.org/library/awards/goldstein/1998/98-06.pdf

Broward County (Florida) Sheriff's Office—Sheriff's Targeted Anticrime Response Team (2000)

The Broward County Sheriff's Office developed the Sheriff's Targeted Anticrime Response Team (START) project in response to an extreme quality-of-life deterioration and an increase in crime and drug trafficking in an urban park and surrounding neighborhoods of Dania Beach, Fla. START encompassed a four-phase, multidimensional approach that involved the police, local residents, community leaders, and state and federal task forces. Phase 1 consisted of an initiative to build trust and support through residential surveys and informal interviews, environmental assessments using CPTED strategies, and establishment of a community-based information-sharing network. Phases 2 and 3 involved traditional policing through criminal investigation and multiagency enforcement operations. Phase 4 encompassed program assessment and maintenance through a community-based advisory group. Along with large-scale arrests and asset forfeitures, the initiative had a positive impact within the community. Dania Beach's overall crime rate dropped 24.7 percent, and the overall clearance rates increased 46 percent. http://www.popcenter.org/library/awards/goldstein/2002/02-04.pdf

Bryan (Texas) Police Department—Summer Sundays at Sadie Thomas Park (2003)

Summer Sundays at Sadie Thomas Park began as a result of citizen feedback received through a mail-in community survey and informal door-to-door police visits regarding 15 years of youth-related crime and disorder in a Bryan, Texas, local park. Conventional policing through uniformed patrols and presence hadn't reduced homicides, assaults, illegal drug sales and use, littering, loud noise, and traffic congestion. To resolve the problem, the police held meetings with local residents, community leaders, and city officials. They subsequently developed a two-step, community-based response. Step 1 consisted of police collaboration with the park service and transportation department to improve lighting, obtain trash cans, and post signs that stated, in part, no glass containers and no alcoholic beverages. Step 2 consisted of police collaboration with 15 local churches, community volunteers, and local media. The effort resulted in the creation of a rotational Sunday church-service initiative centered on worship and community events. Recreational use by families, senior citizens, and youth sports teams increased. Police calls for service significantly decreased. http://www.popcenter.org/library/awards/goldstein/2003/03-03.pdf

Chicago (Illinois) Police Department—Gill Park Project (1997)

Gill Park, located on Chicago's north side, had been plagued by gang activity, drug dealing, shootings, and prostitution for generations. Parents had stopped letting their children play there. The park was revitalized through a multiagency and community partnership, and the application of Chicago's Alternative Policing Strategy. Residents of the affected beat cooperated with the police and neighborhood groups to develop potential solutions. They concluded that the park's layout invited crime, and the principal response was to modify the layout using funds from public and private donations and volunteer labor assistance. People trimmed foliage to improve natural surveillance and installed high-quality lighting in the park's isolated areas. A new baseball diamond replaced secluded areas and a problem concrete pool. Police officers started to conduct foot patrols of the park at strategic times to enforce city curfew and loitering ordinances. Gang-related crime and disorder in the park decreased, while parents' and children's usage increased. Reported offenses during peak warm-weather months dropped from 928 to 802 between 1995 and 1996, a 14 percent decrease. http://www.popcenter.org/library/awards/goldstein/1997/97-08.pdf

Colorado Springs (Colorado) Police Department—Acacia Park Police Service Center (2003)

Colorado's Acacia Park is located in the heart of downtown Colorado Springs. The park had a 40-year history of being a crime magnet and staging area in the downtown and surrounding vicinities. This inhibited city-based redevelopment initiatives, impacted local businesses, and made the place undesirable for parents and children. Traditional policing methods of patrol and undercover operations achieved only short-term improvements. To make a longer-term impact, interested parties adopted a variety of traditional and nontraditional approaches. These included new ordinances, business-based partnerships, a CPTED survey, and the creation of a park police service center. Police calls for service inside the park decreased 55.25 percent, and calls in the surrounding area decreased 14.17 percent. http://www.popcenter.org/library/awards/goldstein/2003/03-08.pdf

Delray Beach (Florida) Police Department—Merritt Park Neighborhood (1997)

Florida developers laid out Merritt Park in the early 1960s to provide neighborhood recreation for children living in the immediate area. Subsequently, the surrounding neighborhood began to deteriorate, with a resulting increase in crime. Conventional police attempts to combat the rising crime through special enforcement teams, drug sweeps, and surveillance met with limited, short-term successes. The police then led a three-prong initiative that consisted of redesigning the park, collaborating with a local homeowners' association and a men's advocacy group, and creating a police park task force. One year later, there was an 87 percent decline in police calls for service to the park. Neighborhood parents and children now freely use Merritt Park. http://www.popcenter.org/library/awards/goldstein/1997/97-11.pdf

El Paso (Texas) Police Department—San Jacinto Park Renovation Action Plan (1996)

Beginning in the 1980s, El Paso's San Jacinto Park transformed from a desirable, historical Texas site to visit, to a place plagued with continual crime and disorder. Citizens began to avoid the park at all times. During the 1990s, the situation intensified to the point that the city, commercial businesses, and police came together to resolve the crime and disorder problems. The measures included renovating restrooms and recruiting a citizen advisory board, citizen volunteer patrols, and liaison police area representatives. A community reassessment survey the next year indicated that fear of crime had substantially declined. Area crime decreased 63 percent, while park use and tourism increased. http://www.popcenter.org/library/awards/goldstein/1996/96-11.pdf

Georgetown (Texas) Police Services Division—Blue Hole Park Project (1995)

Blue Hole Park is a historical site in the heart of Georgetown, Texas. What was once a place of special memories for citizens and tourists had been ruined by alcohol-related crime, accidents, litter, and other problems when summer tourists used the park. An analysis revealed that a mix of alcohol, park geography, and out-of-town residents accounted for most of the problems. In a joint intervention, the police, community organizations, city council, parks department, and city attorney's office implemented a zero-tolerance policy reinforced by signs and new city ordinances that addressed parking and traffic congestion. As a result, the park again became family-oriented. Police service calls, litter accumulation, accidents, and traffic congestion significantly decreased. Pedestrians could safely walk, fish, swim, and enjoy the natural beauty of the park's landscape without fear. http://www.popcenter.org/library/awards/goldstein/1995/95-24(W).pdf

Hamilton (Ontario) Police Service—Van Wagner's Beach Plan (2004)

Hamilton's Van Wagner's Beach, also known as "The Beach Strip," is a popular recreational area situated along the coast of Lake Ontario. Over time, youths took over parking lots and roads on the beach strip for drag racing, drinking, and using drugs. This increased local residents' and other lawful users' level of fear. After an unruly mob swarmed a police squad car, the police coordinated a response among city agencies, community-based groups, and local businesses. Recommendations implemented included using private security guards; CPTED measures to redesign parking lots, walkways, lighting, and access routes; and zero-tolerance enforcement of all criminal and provincial statutes. The Van Wagner's Beach Plan resulted in an overall 26 percent decrease in service calls, and the beach became family-friendly once again. http://www.popcenter.org/library/awards/goldstein/2004/04-14.pdf

Los Angeles County (California) Sheriff's Department—Operation Outreach (1996)

In 1995, there were an estimated 200 to 500 transients in West Hollywood, Calif. After years of providing free services, city officials and community activists began to experience "compassion fatigue." The gradual elimination of social service programs left only a 45-bed rehabilitation center, and hundreds of transients who loitered, slept, and drank alcohol in full view soon inundated parks and other public places. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department established a special unit, Operation Outreach, to develop a community-based response to the transient-related crime and disorder. First, the unit started trading information with city government agencies and various community-based social advocacy groups. Second, government social workers rode along with deputies responding to transient-related calls. When no crime had occurred, police offered transients new options of shelter and social assistance. Third, deputies responded to loitering complaints by obtaining a "Letter of Agency," which authorized them to arrest trespassers without the owner being present to sign a citizen arrest form. Homeless shelter workers soon reported increased transient participation in social service programs designed to get them off the streets. Citizen complaints decreased, and county personnel removed 377 abandoned shopping carts from the streets. Operation Outreach was an effective, nontraditional initiative that addressed transient-related crime and disorder in community parks and other public places. http://www.popcenter.org/library/awards/goldstein/1996/96-26.pdf

Los Angeles (California) Police Department—Barry White Project: Newton Crime Surveillance Team (2006)

Barry White Park, situated in Los Angeles' South Central area, had been neglected, and gangs and drug dealers overran it. The local response to the problem consisted of the creation of a police surveillance team and the installation of five surveillance cameras to record park images. One officer would monitor the camera system for crime and then coordinate with other police officers to arrest the offender(s) and locate any further evidence of the crime. Direct communication with the district attorney's office and a new open line of communication between police officers, park maintenance crews, and recreation staff was established. The project resulted in a 25 percent reduction of overall crime in the park and its surrounding perimeter, a 27 percent reduction of calls for service, a 45 percent increase in arrests, and positive feedback from the surrounding community. http://www.popcenter.org/library/awards/goldstein/2006/06-28.pdf

Los Angeles (California) Police Department—MacArthur Park Revitalization Project (1996)

Thirty-twoacre MacArthur Park lies in the heart of one of Los Angeles' most criminally active areas. Crime and disorder, gang activity, transient encampments, and pervasive blight plagued the park. Faced with this situation, the Los Angeles Police Department implemented a community policing project targeting quality of life in the park in partnership with local agencies and community members. The police used foot, bicycle, and vehicle patrols in the area, while developing rapport and trust with local residents, park visitors, and area merchants. Various city agencies worked to remove graffiti, improve the environmental design, and mitigate narcotics and gang activity. A public education campaign was also a key element in the revitalization process. Gang- and narcotics-related problems decreased significantly. Overall, the target-area crime has decreased 24 percent. The true indicator of the project's success has been children's and families' increasing park use. http://www.popcenter.org/library/awards/goldstein/1998/98-38.pdf

Mesa (Arizona) Police Department—South Grand and Rotary Park Project (1999)

Rotary Park is a small community site located in an older, lower-income Hispanic neighborhood in Mesa, Ariz..Over the years, it transformed into a location for drug dealing, a meeting place for local gangs, and an encampment for more than 100 transients. Local residents no longer entered the park, even during the day. In October 1996, the Mesa Police Department initiated a revitalization project in the South Grand and Rotary Park area. They collaborated with other government agencies and social organizations, as well as concerned citizens. Citizens formed a neighborhood committee, as well as a block-watch and citizen-patrol group. A nonprofit organization removed or renovated older homes. Citizens organized neighborhood cleanups, and the local Boys & Girls Club initiated a neighbor-helping-neighbor program. The police established a prosecution project with the city attorney's office to deal with repeat offenders. Police targeted drug dealers and criminal transients through traditional policing and a gang intervention initiative. Due to this coordinated and multifaceted response, calls for service significantly decreased, and Rotary Park was returned to local residents. http://www.popcenter.org/library/awards/goldstein/1999/99-39.pdf

Montreal (Quebec) Urban Community Police Service—Carré St-Louis (1995)

Carré St-Louis is a public park in a downtown Montreal residential area. For some time, the park had been occupied by "troublemakers," who got drunk, sold drugs, urinated in public, and engaged in a variety of other crimes and misbehaviors. The police had responded cyclically and conventionally. Media pressure and police meetings with interest groups resulted in increased police presence and large-scale sweep-up operations. Once the police withdrew, the problems would reemerge. In a new approach, the police met with city officials to explore specific park problems. They also held public forums with local residents to draft an action plan comprising diverse strategies to address each park problem separately. Police received training in problem-solving and community policing; social service agencies provided free medical and health assistance; city maintenance workers addressed neglect and decay; police held citation mediations with perpetrators; and residents regularly held community-based events in the park to encourage visitors and solidarity. A survey revealed that 90 percent of local residents were pleased with the initiative, and Carré St-Louis was transformed into a safe place for workers, families, and senior citizens to visit. http://www.popcenter.org/library/awards/goldstein/1995/95-48.pdf

Newport Beach (California) Police Department—Talbert Regional Park (2000)

California's cities of Newport Beach and Costa Mesa had experienced recurring transient-related crime in Talbert Regional Park, a 97-acre undeveloped preserve. Jurisdictional issues arose each time police agencies responded to service calls because the park was located between two municipalities and owned by county government. The Newport Beach Police Department decided to respond to citizen complaints about a specific group of homeless people trespassing on private property and using unsecured restrooms. Collaborative meetings with the three primary police agencies, social services, and community-based groups resulted in the implementation of short- and long-term plans. Park security improvements consisted of putting new locks on restroom doors. The police agencies formally established a call-for-service protocol agreement. They strategically relocated transients to shelters through three phases: notice, citation, and physical removal. Once they relocated the homeless, a massive cleanup effort ensued. A follow-up study showed that from mid-October 1999 to mid-March 2000, there was only one call for service in the park area. http://www.popcenter.org/library/awards/goldstein/2000/00-23.pdf

Ontario Provincial Police—Project: Yogi Bear (1995)

Project: Yogi Bear was developed to reduce problems for visitors to Ontario's Bronte Creek Provincial Park. Random bicycle patrols had significantly reduced antisocial behavior during the park's busy summer, but calls for services and car thefts increased during the winter, when Project: Yogi Bear wasn't in effect. In response, the police, community members, and Canada's Ministry of Natural Resources expanded Project: Yogi Bear from a seasonal initiative to a year-round crime prevention program. It included a community-oriented police service center in the park, a structured community volunteer program, police bicycle patrols, and the development of "Community Park Watch." The program reduced the problems and contributed to all visitors' enjoyment of the park. http://www.popcenter.org/library/awards/goldstein/1995/95-57.pdf

Plano (Texas) Police Department—Taking Back Friday Nights at Haggard Park (2006)

For six tumultuous years, a semi-organized group of gothic Texas teens created crime and disorder on Friday nights in Plano's downtown Haggard Park. Consequently, local residents avoided the park on weekends. After traditional policing and church-based initiatives failed to solve the problem, the police took several steps to make the park an undesirable place for the teens to hang out. With the aid of local government and the parks department, the police closed Haggard Park for six months for renovation. At the same time, the police gained legal authority to issue criminal trespass warrants in the park. The teens held their Friday night meetings at another city location and subsequently moved their activities out of town. Today, some teenagers still pass through the park; however, they don't loiter and commit crime. Citizen complaints and police calls for service have decreased, and local residents now feel safe to use Haggard Park on Friday nights. http://www.popcenter.org/library/awards/goldstein/2006/06-37.pdf

Redondo Beach (California) Police Department—Redondo Beach Gang Project (1996)

In late 1995, local residents began to complain about intimidation, gunfire, drug dealing, and drunken gatherings at all hours of the night in and around Redondo Beach's Perry Park, in California. It became clear that the park was serving as an informal headquarters for the North Side Redondo (NSR) gang, many of whose members lived in adjacent dwellings. A preliminary legal injunction was granted and upheld through (1) police collaboration with the city council and city attorney's office, (2) hundreds of sworn testimonies and documented incidents of NSR-related crime and disorder in the park from police and local residents, and (3) the support of local citizens, media, and county, state, and federal authorities. The police legally prohibited NSR members from conducting specific activities in Perry Park and the surrounding 24-block area. As a result, the area has experienced a 38.58 percent decrease in gang-related activities. More importantly, local residents' perceptions of safety in the community have increased. Citizens now freely use the park for recreational activities. http://www.popcenter.org/library/awards/goldstein/1996/96-42(F).pdf

San Diego (California) Police Department—Lewd Conduct at San Elijo Lagoon and I-5 Viewpoint (1996)

Beginning in 1994, the San Diego police received many complaints from local residents, motorists, and county park rangers about illicit sexual activity around the San Elijo Lagoon and I-5 viewpoint. Gay men were having sex in public and leaving used condoms, soiled toilet paper, and matted grass in the area. The police decided to address the problems strategically and collaboratively. First, with the cooperation of the district attorney's office, undercover sex stings successfully netted offenders for solicitation, along with traffic, weapons, and controlled-substance violations. Second, with the help of mainstream and alternative media, the police tried to gain the general public's and the gay community's support. Local newspapers and television networks ran stories about illicit sexual activity and about police undercover operations. Local gay and lesbian associations supported police efforts through public declarations and publication of health-risk material intended to discourage the gay community from using the sites for sexual activity. Third, the state transportation department and park personnel collaborated with the police to transform the environment by trimming vegetation, removing litter, and installing new lights, signs, and fences. Service calls and complaints decreased, but the police continue to monitor the area to prevent a resurgence of illegal activities. http://www.popcenter.org/library/awards/goldstein/1996/96-51.pdf

San Diego (California) Police Department—Marian Bear Park (1994)

San Diego police initiated the Marian Bear Park project due to a long history of complaints about lewd sexual activity in there. It had once been a nature preserve for picnicking, hiking, and bicycling, but over time, it evolved into a location for illicit sex as a result of its secluded bushes and restrooms, its lack of electricity, and its official listing as a "cruising spot" in national gay publications. A combination of traditional and nontraditional police responses, along with the help of the city attorney, park committee, local residents, and gay community, reduced lewd sexual conduct in the park. First, the police videotaped everyone entering and leaving the park to eliminate the sense of anonymity the illegitimate park users enjoyed. Second, one of the two main gay publications stopped listing the park as a "cruising spot" upon receiving a written request from the police. Third, police posted signs around the park to discourage lewd sexual acts. Fourth, undercover police implemented solicitation sting operations to effect arrests and discourage illegitimate activities. As a result, illicit sexual activity decreased 80 percent, while families and youth groups have increased their park usage. http://www.popcenter.org/library/awards/goldstein/1994/94-15(F).pdf

Santa Ana (California) Police Department—Santiago Park Project (2001)

California's Santiago Park encompasses 23 acres of heavy bushes, trees, and recreational facilities. For 20 years, local residents knew that gays were using the park's restrooms, trails, parking lots, and playgrounds for homosexual solicitation and illicit sex. Traditional policing tactics had failed as long-term solutions to the problem and, in response to political pressure, the police developed a strategic plan that combined conventional policing and problem-solving. Those involved in the initiative included the district attorney's office, community organizations, and the park and recreation department. Deterrence and reform tactics consisted of undercover stings, uniformed patrols, a hidden video camera, "stay-away" orders for convicted perpetrators, environmental modifications within the park, changes in the park's operating hours, and written communication on a solicitation internet website to announce police enforcement efforts. Since the initiative's implementation, police patrolling the park have noted a significant decrease in illicit sexual behavior. A community survey revealed a 78 percent decrease in lewd activity. http://www.popcenter.org/library/awards/goldstein/2001/01-64.pdf

Vancouver (British Columbia) Police Department—Showdown at the Playground (2000)

Vancouver, British Columbia's, Grandview Park is in an area that drug use and dealing had plagued. Few children used the park's playground, and local residents walked around the park, not through it. Intelligence reports to the Grandview-Woodland Community Policing Center indicated a substantial increase in hard-drug sales and drug use in the park. As a result, the center declared a state of emergency in the park. To restore the park for community use, the police adopted an array of traditional and nontraditional responses with the assistance of local residents, an animal shelter, and community groups. Revitalization tactics consisted of police undercover stings, police surveillance operations, animal enforcement, the establishment of a volunteer citizen patrol program, and a community-based initiative that focused on restorative justice. After the response, the drug trafficking fell, police service calls decreased 80 percent, parents began bringing their children to the playground, and area residents returned to the park. http://www.popcenter.org/library/awards/goldstein/2000/00-32(F).pdf


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