The LAPD announced during a special town hall meeting on July 26 that it will be increasing police officer presence at San Pedro’s Peck Park. The department delivered the news just two days after a deadly mass shooting at the park claimed the lives of two people and injured at least five others. “You’re going to see cops in their cars. You’re going to see cops on bicycles. You’re going to see cops on ATVs. You’re going to see cops on horses,” LAPD Captain Brent McGuyre told the community.
On July 24, police responded to reports of gunfire at Peck Park, where hundreds of people had gathered that afternoon for a lowrider car show, baseball game and other activities. According to LAPD Captain Adrian Gonzalez, the shooting erupted from a dispute among “very specific individuals who were participating in the baseball game or were spectators who were involved in the dispute; it wasn’t a team-on-team or gang-on-gang versus each other.”
At the town hall, incensed community members voiced their concerns about park safety. “What happened here should have never happened, but it did,” one woman said during the open comment period, per KTLA. “It’s in our backyard now. Now we have to deal with it.” Another resident told reporters, “We’re looking for more patrol. Pedestrian, as well as bike. We have the unhoused and their situation is not being addressed. And now with this … It’s really concerning, especially with young children.”
The concerns of these residents are not new to LAAPOA. For years, we have been calling to fully equip and arm Los Angeles park rangers to protect our City parks from such instances of violence — which is on the rise and will only get worse. According to a recent Fox News report analyzing violent crime among six major cities, Los Angeles recorded an 8.6% increase in violent crime so far this year, and nationally, the numbers are set to outpace the already historic levels of violent crime in 2021.
As we’ve covered previously, the city’s over 450 parks and open spaces are not immune to violence and have become fertile ground for wrongdoers to commit crime. Our parks have been sites of homicides, shootings, assaults, robberies and more, and the people who perpetrate these acts are often armed and dangerous. Meanwhile, Los Angeles park rangers, who are sworn peace officers under Section 830.31 of the California Penal Code, are unarmed and lack the protection needed to defend themselves and the public against the rising tide of crime in our parks and public spaces, which are meant to be safe places where our community can congregate without fear of being victims of violence.
“It’s time to start listening to the community. The safety of our city parks has been a growing issue, and we need to take proactive measures to stop the violence before it starts,” LAAPOA President Marshall McClain says. “We must do so on behalf of the communities who wish to visit our parks and feel safe, our Recreation and Park employees who wish to work in a safe environment and our sworn peace officer park rangers who fulfill the department’s mission statement, which is to enrich the lives of the residents of Los Angeles by providing safe, welcoming parks and recreation facilities for people of all ages to play, learn, contemplate, build a sense of community and be good stewards of our environment. Giving rangers the tools they need to do their job safely and effectively will also allow the LAPD — which is understaffed — to focus its resources on local calls. LAAPOA will voice the urgency of this matter with the newly appointed General Manager of Recreation and Parks Department Jimmy Kim.”