TPD tries new tactics to boost park safety

TPD raising profile for park safety

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Tucson has some nice parks but some park visitors make other people want to stay away.

Now Tucson Police have a new effort to keep peace in the parks.

At Santa Rita Park, we met the guys from Old Pueblo Baseball relaxing after another win.
      
But Mike Morales says they have a tough time really relaxing because of some of the homeless people who live in the park.

"It's the fighting, the drugs, all of the ugly things you don't want to see.  It's all happening here in front of you.  And don't get me wrong.  we feed them.  Sometimes we give them water; you know what I'm trying to say. and we try to be friendly with them."
        
Now Tucson Police are raising their profile to lower the problems.  They'll be moving their mobile command post from park to park.  Patrol officers will come to the command post and check the park throughout the day.
        
Lt. Brian Parker says says police are not trying to drive homeless from the park. They want to connect them with shelters and mental health services.

"We can't arrest our way out of this but we really feel like if we can create relationships with these folks and then get them plugged into resources that may be a better and more effective way of handling the homeless issue that we have here at this park."
     
Ernest says he's spent a couple of months in Santa Rita Park.  He thinks more police presence can help.

"Just to help clean up a lot of the negative this park's got.”  

KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked: “What sort of things do you see here.  Do you stay here frequently?” 

Ernest: “Yeah.  Everything from fighting with people to drugs and drinking."
     
Thursday was day one of the new program so it will take some time to see the results.

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