Fresno, Calif. - Cracking down on park problems in Fresno the police have started a new enforcement program aimed at troubled parks. Officers are now doing special patrols both inside and outside public parks. These patrols are in response to reports of drug use, homeless camping, and violence in and around Fresno's parks in areas across the city. These are areas that should be safe for families and that's the mission for Fresno Police.
At Fresno's parks there have been problems at the playground.
"The homeless have totally taken over. They sleep there. They throw their trash everywhere," said Erica Prater, a Fresno resident.
Officers on patrol are seeing problems too.
"They were seeing drug dealing, needles everywhere, possibly sex acts in bathrooms," said Captain Mark Salazar of the Fresno Police Department.
In response, officers are now doing park patrols. Sergeant Alfonso Castillo took us along.
"Well, they can use this hole to enter the park. They can use it as an avenue to escape." 37:51>[Duration:0:06]
We saw officers canvasing parks in Southwest Fresno watching over the children who use them.
"Well I can tell you for the next 15 hours the same officers you saw handing out stickers and making those community contacts they're the same ones who are going to come back out and see if there is anything to enforce," said Castillo.
The hope is officer visibility will also impact gang violence. Shawntavia says her daughter recently witnessed a drive by shooting while walking near Frank H. Ball Park.
"She was hysterical. As she was walking up it had just transpired and she was scared so the fact that does happen having the police here does make them feel more safe," said Shawntavia.
These officers aim to give communities their parks back.
"There should be no fear of a child being harassed by somebody, or picking up a heroin needle, or God forbid some type of violent action happening within the park, or outside the park," said Castillo.
Fresno Police leaders say the park patrols are a part of a 60 day operation and park safety will remain a major focus for all officers across the city.