JUNE 19, 2013 — Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, along with LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, Deputy Mayor Guillermo Cespedes, and 320 Youth Squad members, today announced the start of the 2013 season of the Summer Night Lights (SNL) program, the final SNL of the Mayor's administration. Summer Night Lights is an expanded series of after-hours events in 32 public parks located in areas with high rates of violent gang-related crime.
Since its implementation in 2008, SNL has successfully reduced violence in communities most impacted by gang activity by extending park hours until midnight four days a week (Wednesday - Saturday) during summer months. The program aids violence reduction by providing meals, mentoring, and activities, including athletics and cultural enrichment, during peak evening hours for gang activity.
“As one of my final acts as Mayor, I am proud to kick off another season of Summer Night Lights," Mayor Villaraigosa said. “This program has been a catalyst for change in our neighborhoods, providing hope, safety, and opportunity for local youth. It has become a model for combating gang violence nationwide, and I am proud to have been a part of it.”
Summer Night Lights also provides at-risk youth with the opportunity for employment and professional development. Youth Squad members undergo training on a variety of relevant topics prior to the start of Summer Night Lights and receive a stipend for their work implementing the programs. This year, training took place at California State University Los Angeles, providing many members with their first exposure to a college campus.
“One of the most direct ways that Summer Night Lights impacts neighborhoods is through the employment of local at-risk youth. The lessons learned through training and program implementation will stay with them long after the summer is over,” Gang Reduction and Youth Development Deputy Mayor Cespedes said. “Over the past six years hundreds of youth have been impacted by this program, and none of this would have been possible without the hard work and dedication of Mayor Villaraigosa."
Last year, Summer Night Lights sites experienced a 33% reduction in gang-related part 1 crime and a 47% reduction in gang-related homicides, a difference noticed by one of its partners, the Los Angeles Police Department. The Summer Night Lights program works because of the partnerships that have been forged between the program, law enforcement, and community groups. This is an example of the City’s leaders working together to make Los Angeles safe.
“We remain committed to enriching the lives of the youth in our City by providing them with safe and successful alternatives to gang violence,” said LAPD Chief Beck. “The continued partnership with our youth organizations and our community members has undoubtedly helped bring about positive change in youth culture. This program has been extremely effective, and we are excited about making this summer’s program another success.”
Summer Night Lights will operate in 32 Los Angeles City public parks from June 26th to August 9th, every Wednesday through Saturday from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.