Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa credits a new summertime anti-gang program, which included special community events and extended nighttime hours at eight city parks, with a measurable drop in crime in some of the city’s most violent neighborhoods, reports the Los Angeles Times. Between July 4 and Labor Day, the Summer Night Lights program offered special movie nights and other youth- and family-oriented events until midnight four nights a week, during peak time for gang activity and other juvenile-related crime.
The mayor emphasized that the drop in crime came during the summer months, when the school break would usually lead to an uptick of criminal activity. The communities surrounding the eight parks involved in Summer Night Lights had a 17 percent drop in violent crime during the summer, compared with the year before. Homicides were down by 86 percent, and the community surrounding Jim Gilliam Park had no killings, compared with six during the same period last year. Villaraigosa and Police Chief William Bratton credited the drop to hiring hundreds of additional police officers and to community and anti-gang programs.