Officers and dozens of community groups put together an event called "Peace in the Park" at Mountain View Park on Saturday designed to highlight recent efforts to reduce crime.
“What this is…is a collaborative effort by members of the community to take back the park,” said Captain Manny Del Toro, SDPD, Southeastern Division.
Captain Del Toro explains the park has been a problematic area in the past.
“We found crack pipes…we found a lot of empty liquor bottles…we also found some ammunition,” he said.
Del Toro says it’s a place where young gang members have been known to gather.
“We’re getting that a lot from parents…and they said they don’t want their kids to be influenced by the gang members who are in the park,” he said.
Police have been working to patrol and clean up the area. Del Toro says he hopes Saturday's event helps families feel more comfortable returning to the park regularly.
“When you feel safe, then that makes the kids feel safe,” said Sonny Pereyra, a father enjoying the park with his son Kaleb.
He says he appreciates the efforts by police to ensure his son’s safety. Kaleb attends school just down the street.
The neighborhood is filled with young kids. That’s why community groups say it’s essential to offer outreach programs with mentors who can relate to what kids could face.
Benny Madrid, for example, set up a tent at Saturday’s event offering information about “Street Anonymous," a program designed to help keep kids out of gangs. Madrid shared with NBC 7 he grew up in a gang himself.
“Our class is growing so much out of word of mouth,” he said. “I love to see the transformation in people’s lives…when they get down to the root of the problem and they yank it out themselves.”
He says it’s efforts like these – that help keep parks for play.