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Chief of Police Message - July 2012

Summer Night Lights Begins 5th Year Of Violence Reduction Programming In Los Angeles

 

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Public Parks Host an Expanded Series of After-Hours Events to Reduce Crime and Violence during Peak Months for Gang-Related Activity

LOS ANGELES — Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, along with LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, Deputy Mayor Guillermo Cespedes, and 352 Youth Squad members, today announced the start of the 2012 season of the Summer Night Lights program, 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, Summer Night Lights 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.

“Summer Night Lights has been a catalyst for change in our neighborhoods,” Mayor Villaraigosa said. “This program provides hope, safety, and opportunity for local youth and has become a model for combating gang violence nationwide.”

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 can impact neighborhoods is through the employment of local at-risk youth,” Gang Reduction and Youth Development Deputy Mayor Cespedes said. “The positive learning experiences they receive through training and program implementation will stay with them long after the summer is over.”

Last year, Summer Night Lights sites experienced a 35% reduction in gang-related part I crime, 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 must always strive to provide our youth with positive alternatives to enrich their lives, where they live and play,” LAPD Chief Beck said. “We must continue to develop partnerships with our youth organizations and community members in order to effect change in youth culture. This program works and we look forward to another successful summer.”

Half of the cost of the program is funded by private donors, including international corporations such as Walmart, making good use of public-private partnerships during a time of fiscal challenges across the nation.

“Our comprehensive Gang Reduction and Youth Development strategy represents a breakthrough in gang violence reduction,” Mayor Villaraigosa said. “Today, Summer Night Lights has become one of the outstanding achievements of our efforts and a source of pride in some of our most crime-ridden communities.”

Summer Night Lights will operate in 32 Los Angeles City public parks from July to September, Wednesday through Saturday from 7 p.m. to 12 a.m.

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